Stick to your roots

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Stick to your roots

Ihmoud's Moods

Ihmoud's Moods

Ihmoud's Moods

Ihmoud's Moods

By Media Relations Editor

As a lifelong follower of sports, I’ve been strongly influenced by sports coverage. This week I am baffled like never before by an international soccer story that I have been following closely since mid-December.

Club Deportivo Palestino, one of Chile’s oldest club soccer teams, is being accused of using its jerseys to promote terrorism because the number one on each player’s shirt has been replaced with a flag of historic Palestine in honor of the Palestinian immigrants who founded the team in the 1920s. The accusation that the jerseys are anti-Israel has garnered the support of the Chilean Football Federation, which banned the top division team from using the kits, according to a Jan. 21 BBC News report.

To me, it only makes sense for a soccer team that was created by Palestinian immigrants to use the historic flag of Palestine as a symbol of the team. The $1,300 fine and the ban of the jersey unfairly discounts the team’s heritage. The University of Illinois Fighting Illiniuses its state’s map on its jersey and home field, so this is not the first time we’ve seen a team commemorate its history on its uniforms.

Naturally, the jersey debate conjures emotions about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and while I am not afraid to proclaim my pro-Palestinian stance on the illegal occupation taking place in Palestinian territories, that is not my point nor is this the platform for that debate.

The federation explained it opposes “any form of political, religious, sexual, ethnic, social or racial discrimination.” But one can argue that preventing a team from displaying the country from which their families migrated is a form of discrimination.

A Palestinian blog, Sixteen Minutes to Palestine, which has been following the controversy, asserts that the club team’s front office “does what it can to preserve the vision and the culture of its founding members,” who fled their home country, Palestine, to get away from violence and colonialism dating back to the late 1800s.

According to SMPalestine.com, CD Palestino Captain Filipe Nunez visited families in the Aida Refugee Camp in Bethlehem to strengthen ties between their fans in Chile and Palestine.

The Jewish community in Chile, which originally complained about the jerseys, may have succeeded in pressuring the football federation to remove the maps and fine the team, but I hope CD Palestino does not apologize for its jerseys.

No team or individual should ever have to apologize for celebrating his or her ancestry. Admitting fault in this scenario is almost as silly as the allegations that the jerseys will provoke terrorism.

Patrick Kiblisky, owner of club Neblense in Chile, put forth a formal complaint stating, “We cannot accept the involvement of football with politics and religion.” I respectfully disagree.

Nelson Mandela successfully united a nation with rugby. Yes, the Chilean soccer team has openly stated on its Facebook page that it supports a free Palestine, but punishing a team for celebrating its heritage is incredibly wrong. It simply does not make sense to ban CD Palestino’s jerseys.

Listen to Nader Ihmoud on Mondays from 7–9 p.m. as he hosts The Benchwarmers Show on WCRX 88.1FM.

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