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South Africa’s Orlando Pirates FC match against Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv causes an uproar

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By Kouthar Sambo

Today marks the match between South Africa’s Orlando Pirates FC against Apartheid Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv in Spain.

The match has caused an uproar with Pro-Palestine supporters which include the African National Congress (ANC) Robert Waterwitch Thornhill Branch who has condemned it.

The ANC said it is rather “shocking and disgraceful” that Orlando Pirates FC and its owner, Dr. Irvin Khoza, are adamant that the match will commence.

“This is an insult to Madiba and goes against Madiba’s principled and strongly held views on Israel’s atrocities against the people of Palestine. Madiba’s stance was also very clear on Palestine when he consistently stated that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians,” expressed ANC’s Robert Waterwitch Thornhill Branch.

Other Pro-Palestinian organizations, such as the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign’s (PSC) Professor Usuf Chikte, openly proclaimed disdain on the matter.

“As South African football fans and solidarity activists against Israeli Apartheid, we are calling upon Orlando Pirates not to play a friendly match scheduled today with Maccabi Tel Aviv. There is nothing friendly playing with a team representing Apartheid Israel,” said Chikte.

Chikte further highlighted the already established racist anti-Palestine fans of Maccabi Tel Aviv and described the inhumane violent attacks launched by the Israeli occupation forces on Palestinian football matches.

He went on to cite the murder of a 27-year-old Palestinian footballer, Omar Qatin, who was shot dead by an Israeli soldier.
According to Chikte, there is nothing unusual about this.

“While the Israeli Football Association and the Israeli government support soccer in illegal Palestinian settlements, Palestinians have to endure Israeli soldiers regularly raiding Palestinian football matches. This includes football matches of children where tear gas, sound bombs, and rubber-coated bullets are being fired onto their football pitches.”

Meanwhile, Branch Secretary of the ANC Robert Waterwitch Thornhill, Majid Mowzer, said sports play a crucial role in most countries, and it is no different for Palestinians.

“Sports was one of the weapons that was used successfully against the brutal Apartheid regime. Today the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is preventing Russian athletes from participating in sports for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” said Mowzer.

“This is one of the ways to isolate Israel – whether it is through sports, cultural boycotts, or avoiding buying goods made in Israel. Palestinians and many other countries stood by us during our struggle years. It is an indictment on Orlando Pirates, that they are playing with an Israeli club.”

Orlando Pirates has sent a message to the world that they do not empathize with the Palestinian struggle, explained Mowzer, and it is rather “sad” that the soccer team, who are loved by many South African soccer fans are ignoring the message of Madiba in Mandela month.

“South Africa is not free until Palestine is free,” ended Mowzer.

Photo: Pixabay

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