Friday, March 11, 2011

Can sport overcome political problems?

Palestinian soccer team pic Reuters
Reading about the men's soccer game between Palestine and Thailand this week, reminded me of all the coverage the women's team got a few months back when the first ever female soccer league was launched there in February. 
It's been less than two years since the Palestinian women played their first home international game - against Jordan in October 2009. In so many ways sport is so superficial, but when it comes to recognition for national teams - and so recognition for nation-states, then FIFA plays a bigger role than most. The stadium itself was mainly built thanks to money donated by FIFA. 
Watching the Palestinian women's league
Bizarrely the women owe the existence of their team to former head of the Preventive Security team in the West Bank. Once one of the most feared men in the area, Jibril Rajoub has been on a mission to promote women and women in sport since he took charge of the football federation in 2008. He is also a firm believer in the power of sport to overcome political barriers. I've read a few interviews with Rajoub and Shimon Peres, the Israeli president where both of them say football can rise above racism and political problems. 

Maybe one day ...What do you think, how powerful is our love of sport?


Snowcatcher said...

Fascinating! I am so glad more and more women are able to compete and participate in a continually expanding array of sports!

a runners' life said...

Sport is definitely powerful. For the players and participants, sport encourages team work and brings people together. People who take part in sport tend to be happier and more open minded. I think if sport is encouraged at a local level it will spill over to the international field and unite different groups rather than separate them.

niamh said...

@ Snowcatcher - It is important that we keep moving on in parts of life which might seem superficial, hopefully one day we won't have to draw attention to it. And of course here, there are so many extra complications.

@ a runners life - the Olympic ideal. I'm sure that during WWII or the Balkans conflict no-one could have believed the Olympics would come again but as you say if we take small steps ...