This will be more than a game.
When the Palestinian national team meets Thailand on Wednesday in a qualification match toward the 2012 Olympic Games, it will be the first qualifier in any global competition to take place in the West Bank since 1948, when the state of Israel was established. The Palestinian Football Association team, down by 1-0 after the away leg in Bangkok, must score at least twice in Faisal Al-Husseini Stadium near Jerusalem to advance to the next stage.
The stadium, which has artificial turf, was built with financial aid from FIFA, soccer’s world governing body.
The match Wednesday comes at a time of gathering protests organized by young Palestinians wanting an end to the political split between Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, and the Fatah party, which dominates the Palestinian Authority. It may be simplistic to suggest that Hamas wants to fight its way to liberation, while Fatah wants to play for it.
But in an interview Monday, Jibril Rajoub, one of the 20 men who run the Fatah Central Committee, the decision-making body of the Palestinian organization, said, “I hope this first-ever official game in the Palestinian territories will not be the last, but rather the first step in establishing the minimum rights of Palestinian people.”
(Source: The New York Times)