This is a follow-up on the Chilean Club Deportivo Palestino (The Palestine Sports Club) soccer team, whose new uniforms used a silhouette map of historic Palestine to replace the numeral one on their jerseys. The new shirt design became a subject of much controversy and made for a compelling and popular report by Adam Horowitz, two weeks ago.
The National Association of Professional Football of Chile ruled on Monday that the jerseys worn by Palestino players violated league policy. They directed that the map image be removed and fined the club $1,300.
Complaints about the new uniforms were lodged by an official from the Israeli Latin American Trade Ministry and from a Jewish owner of a rival team.
The New York Times reported the decision of the Chilean soccer association by quoting from its official report on the incident:
‘The association is removed from religious and political activities, in general, and anything else which does not have a direct relation to its objectives and to sport,’ the tribunal said in its six-page decision. ‘Consequently, the association prohibits any form of political, religious, sexual, ethnic or racial discrimination.’
The owner of Palestino, Fernando Aguad said that “we accept the resolution and we will change our uniform.” He added that his club would not appeal the decision.
The Emirati daily, The National, notes that despite agreeing to remove the image of Palestine, the Palestino Facebook page says,
For us, free Palestine will always be historical Palestine, nothing less.
Chile is home of the largest Palestinian community outside of the Middle East. Some estimates are as high as 500,000 Chileans of Palestinian descent.
The New York Times piece on the league decision incorrectly conflated the jersey controversy with two recent soccer incidents that are believed to reflect antisemitic behavior.
The controversy in South America comes on the heels of recent incidents in England as the sport grapples with incidents of racism and anti-Semitism. On Tuesday, the French player Nicolas Anelka, who plays in England with West Bromwich Albion, was charged by the country’s Football Association for making the quenelle gesture. Some people interpret it as anti-Semitic. Also Tuesday, three fans in London were charged with using the word ‘Yid’ at a game involving Tottenham Hotspur, a club with a large Jewish fan base.
Apparently, to the NY Times writer, Jack Bell, any expression of Palestinian nationalism is by definition antisemitic.