'Palestine wins': UN ambassador hails fan solidarity at Qatar World Cup

'Palestine wins': UN ambassador hails fan solidarity at Qatar World Cup
The UN Palestine Ambassador has praised the outpouring of solidarity for the team at the Qatar 2022 World Cup.
3 min read
01 December, 2022
The World Cup has been widely seen as a moment of widespread and uncensored Palestine solidarity [source: Getty]

The Palestinian ambassador to the UN on Wednesday lauded widespread support for Palestine from football fans at the Qatar World Cup, saying it was a blow to Israel's efforts at normalisation with Arab countries. 

Riyad Mansour said during an address that the tournament's winners were "already known", given the huge number of Palestinian flags and chants in support of the cause have been seen and heard at World Cup games. 

The ambassador added that this outcry of pro-Palestine sentiment was a rejection of Israeli normalisation, condemning a series of normalisation deals cut between Israel and Arab states Morocco, the UAE and Bahrain in 2020 and 2021. 

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"The World Cup in Qatar dealt a decisive blow to Israel’s illusions," said Mr Mansour to the UN. 

"Nothing can normalise Israeli occupation. Nothing can uproot Palestine from the hearts and minds of people," he added. 

Mansour's speech was later shared by the State of Palestine's  Twitter account. 

Palestine flags have been seen in almost every Qatar World Cup match, while a number of fans have also sported keffiyehs, one of the most prolific symbols of Palestinian resistance. 

In Morocco’s match against Belgium, which ended with a historic 2-0 win for the North African side, a "Free Palestine" flag was revealed in the 48th minute referencing the 1948 Nakba. 

At the same time in another match, Tunisian fans also proudly displayed a Palestinian flag. 

Morocco Fans show solidarity with Palestine
Moroccan fans have displayed Palestinian fans during their matches at the Qatar World Cup [source: Getty]

Chants voicing solidarity with Palestinians have been sung during and after football matches. In one video, Moroccan supporters could be heard loudly rejecting their country’s normalisation with Israel saying: "To our beloved Palestine, the most beautiful of countries." 

Arab football fans have also refused to speak to Israeli journalists countless times during the tournament.

A widely circulated clip showed one Saudi supporter telling Israeli journalist Moav Vardi from Kan 11: "There’s no Israel, there is only Palestine."

This uncompromising stance of solidarity has been widely seen as a rebuff to the claim that the Palestinian cause is no longer central to Arabs.

These notions, championed by Israeli politicans, purport the view that Arab states can reach peaceful agreements with Israel without addressing the oppression of Palestinians. 

However, the tournament in Qatar has showcased the endurance of Pan-Arab unity with the plight of Palestinians, bringing together fans from the Atlantic to the Gulf. 

"Justice in Palestine would mean that our international law-based order has triumphed over impunity and double standards," said Mansour, himself a refugee from the occupied West Bank. 

"Justice in Palestine would mean that freedom, peaceful settlement and coexistence have triumphed over oppress and discrimination," he said.