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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Football in Gaza

Little reported in the British media last week was the news that Gaza's main football stadium was intentionally hit by an Israeli air strike. The bomb left an enormous crater in the middle of the stadium.

A FIFA representative immediately condemned the attack, saying it was "without reason".

"The field was not being used by Palestinians as a missile launching pad, as Israel's ambassador to Switzerland had claimed," said Jerome Champagne, FIFA deputy general secretary in charge of political issues.

"FIFA has been fighting for more than a century to make this game universal. To hit a football field is really the wrong signal. Football should remain outside of politics."

An Israeli army spokesman later told Reuters that there was no confirmation the stadium was ever used as a launching pad for makeshift rockets. He added that the intention of the air strike was to "send a strong message to the Palestinians that Israel can target any point in the coastal strip and will not tolerate rocket fire at its citizens."

Today, the FIFA president Sepp Blatter announced that FIFA would pay for the rehabillitation of the football pitch in the Palestine stadium in Gaza. Mr Blatter said:

"In the world of today, which is disrupted by long-lasting disputes and violence, football is one of the very few universal tools mankind can use to bridge gaps between nations and peoples, and to symbolise what unites our planet over what divides it. FIFA's role is not to reprimand, but to help create bonds and ensure that the young people of the region have hope and the possibility to enjoy the school of life that football represents. Therefore, I call on the relevant authorities to do everything they can to allow Palestinian and Israeli football to develop."

This site has a policy not to carry pictures in it's posts. But I make this post an exception because the picture of the disfigurement of Gaza's best football pitch has a symbolism that not only goes beyond mere words, but also beyond the beautiful game itself.


Blogger RedsMan said...

I can't agree enough with those words. I hope they can go a long, long way to avoid the occurring traits of foreign combat leaving any sign of its presence on any football pitch. I really do.


4/11/2006 11:36 pm

Blogger BlindJak said...

It’s pretty sad as footie has been a way to help nations realise that were pretty much all the same dating right back to when the Germans and the English crept out of their trenches on Christmas day 1915 for a spontaneous kick about. Hopefully this incident will be looked back on with regret and never repeated.

4/12/2006 8:22 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ahhh....wha'ya gonna do?

4/13/2006 9:56 am

Blogger RedsMan said...

Hopefully sift out lame comments like that, to begin with.

4/13/2006 4:37 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It related to your article in a subtle way. It was meant as gentle humour. No offence. Maybe I watch more jewish based american sitcoms than yourself and maybe this is the wrong site for humour or an attempt at it. Apologies, won't happen again.


4/14/2006 9:38 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...


And maybe I should have mentioned that I thought it was great to see an article like that on a football blogsite.

4/14/2006 9:41 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not the wrong site for humour or attempts at, Anon. Sometimes, if not all, humour requires a time and place, and on occasion timing. I felt this article required more than humour, that others would hopefully see and understand the plight the Palestinian children go through daily, though they are not the only ones. The article underlines that on at least somewhere within society, immaterial of where in the world, war and fighting can stop with all parties involved coming together for a respite, and perhaps return to what they left behind to seek their objective with armoury, strategy and sheer numbers. For something like that to happen, you cant go badder than a football pitch. One comment has already given us a classic example between us and the Germans in 1915. When you see a picture of a big crater in a football pitch, it brings the message that nowhere is sacred enough to avoid conflict. I understand the Israeli army considered the strike as a pre-emptive one to deter any attacks from this area, but another side shows pre-emptive strikes have killed several innocents in the past. So here, I agree with redsman that humour does have to take a back seat.

4/14/2006 6:40 pm

Blogger T said...

Anon (8.56am) thanks for the clarification and the apology is fully accepted.

Anon (5.40pm) thank you very much for writing so eloquently about the subject-matter of this post.

Redsman and Blindjak too... take it as a given that I appreciated your expected spot-on viewpoints.

4/14/2006 8:03 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

Yep, I ditto T's words. Always room for humour, Anon (5.40pm), here on EFT.


4/14/2006 9:20 pm


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