FC Barcelona invites Palestinians to Madrid match after Gilad Shalit row
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is sidetracking "El Clásico," a game normally known for featuring the world's biggest stars.
September 28th, 2012
03:46 PM ET

FC Barcelona invites Palestinians to Madrid match after Gilad Shalit row

It's not often a sporting event can stoke the tensions of one of the world's longest-running conflicts, but news that an ex-prisoner and Israeli soldier would attend a Spanish soccer match next month did just that.

Gilad Shalit, who was freed in October 2011 after more than five years as a Palestinian prisoner, is expected to attend next month's "El Clásico," a match between Spanish powerhouses FC Barcelona and Real Madrid. This game, which will be played at Barcelona's Camp Nou on October 7, is one of the world's biggest rivalries.

Despite several reports that Barcelona had extended the invitation to Shalit, the club announced in a Thursday statement that wasn't the case.

Gilad Shalit is expected to attend next month's soccer match between Barcelona and Real Madrid.

"The Club did not invite Mr. Shalit to the game, but accepted a request to watch a match during his visit to Barcelona," the statement said.

Barcelona said it also accepted a Palestinian Embassy request that three of its delegates - Palestinian Authority Ambassador Musa Amer Odeh, Palestinian Football Union President Jibril Rajoub and soccer player and activist Mahmoud Sarsak - be invited to the game.

Though the club statement said the three would attend, the Palestinian-run blog, The Electronic Intifada, cited two reports saying that Sarsak would reject the invitation.

Sarsak was freed from an Israeli prison in June following a three-month hunger strike. The player's refusal to eat prompted Amnesty International to issue a statement saying Sarsak should be released or provided with medical treatment.

There has been no statement from Sarsak regarding the Barcelona invitation, even on his Twitter feed. However, a blogger who is frequently retweeted by Sarsak has said that she spoke to Sarsak, and he confirmed the news that he would not be attending the game.

When news of Shalit's attendance first broke, there was backlash in Gaza. FC Barcelona is sponsored by The Qatar Foundation and Turkish Airlines and is enormously popular in the Palestinian territories, but Hamas, which governs Gaza, said it would not permit TV stations to air Barcelona games or papers to report team news.

Al Arabiya further reported that Hama radio station in Gaza had stopped broadcasting team updates and that a Spain-based anti-Israeli group, BDS Catalunya, had organized a petition calling for Barcelona to revoke the invitation. It garnered 600 to 650 signatures, depending on the news report.

“We are also surprised to see your club express so much friendship and sympathy towards the only Israeli soldier to be imprisoned in recent years as a result of this conflict while, at the same time, maintaining absolute silence about the 4,660 Palestinian prisoners now confined in Israeli prisons," the petition said, according to the International Business Times.

FC Barcelona moved quickly to assert that it was not taking sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The club's Thursday statement carried the headline, "FC Barcelona, for peace and harmony in the Middle East," and club vice president Carles Vilarrubí told an Israeli website, “Barcelona is a place of unity, not divisions. This invitation [to Shalit] does not indicate in any way that Barca takes a position in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

The club also noted in its Thursday statement that it had hosted Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during a visit to Barcelona last summer. It also said that 16 Palestinian and 15 Israeli children had trained together last year at La Masia, which houses Barcelona's revered youth system, as part of the team's efforts to contribute to the peace process.

"The goal of the exercise was to cultivate an athletic relationship between the two groups," the statement said.

Shalit is a well-known sports fan. Since emerging from captivity - during which he reportedly beat his minders routinely at PlayStation soccer - he has attended a Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball game and the NBA All-Star Game in Orlando, Florida.

The Miami Herald reported in June that Shalit attended the NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder as a correspondent for the Israeli newspaper, Yediot Ahranot.

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Filed under: Human rights • Israel • Palestinians • Soccer • Sports • World
soundoff (180 Responses)
  1. dazzle ©

    Hi to you too @banasy. Our @bobcat(INAHAT) just keeps hitting the mark and making us both laugh. I am hoping to get her home today but she had a tough night when they withdrew the morphine. On friends, now I am thinking song lyrics, Neil Young Only Love Can Break your heart. There's a line in that song that reasonates with me.

    September 30, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Which line, dazzle?
      "I had a friend I've never seen
      "He hides his head inside a dream"?

      September 30, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • dazzle ©

      @banasy, that's the line. Now I have to you tube that. It is becoming an earworm for me.

      September 30, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      It resonates with me, too.
      That, and I know you so well, lol.

      September 30, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • David Negev

      Gilad Shalit was exchanged against 1027 Palestmuslim terrorists who were put in Israeli Jail after found guilty of specifically targeting and murdering Israeli civilians, children, women and men.
      After (178) hundreds of years of experiencing Palestmuslim terror combined with lies, propaganda, hate and deceit, one learned that even "peace talks" with these people ends as a death trap. Please note the 2000 civilians Israeli-Jews blown up to their death by Palestmuslim terrorists (mostly by suicide bombers) during the "Oslo peace" initiative. It appears clearly that the Palestmuslim tactics is murdering their opponent from a standpoint of self-made poor victims in order to raise sympathy from the non- involved

      October 2, 2012 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |
  2. Catholic Nazis

    Virtually every German citizen who cheered as Nazis enslaved and killed jews considered themselves to be true Christians..."Cathocs" The wrod *catholic* literally means confusion. (though there were some jewish officers in Hitler's war machine, and Hitler's grandpa was a jew)
    During WWII, Christians became confused and started killing each other at war.
    "Everyone knew about the camps."-Oskar Schindler (Shindlers List movie)

    September 30, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rascal Rabble

      nowyerrr being a sheeithead...yeah since when a hollywood movies for entertainment becomes a reference point for accuracy...so what if hitler is a crazy jew...he's dead and gone...happy riddance...

      September 30, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • "Catholic"

      The word catholic (derived via Late Latin catholicus, from the Greek adjective καθολικός (katholikos), meaning "universal" comes from the Greek phrase καθόλου (katholou), meaning "on the whole", "according to the whole" or "in general", and is a combination of the Greek words κατά meaning "about" and όλος meaning "whole". The word in English can mean either "including a wide variety of things; all-embracing" or "of the Roman Catholic faith" as "relating to the historic doctrine and practice of the Western Church."-Wikipedia
      It does NOT literally mean "confused", although I think you are.

      September 30, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Rascal Rabble

    i believe i read some of those books bobcat...i tried whining, kicking, and crying to get your way...it worked until my mommie left mie laying on airport floor...my separation anxiety couldn't take that kinner abuse...

    September 30, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • David Negev

      Gilad Shalit was exchanged against 1027 Palestmuslim terrorists who were put in Israeli Jail after found guilty of specifically targeting and murdering Israeli civilians, children, women and men.
      After hundreds of years of experiencing Palestmuslim terror combined with lies, propaganda, hate and deceit, one learned that even "peace talks" with these people ends as a death trap. Please note the 2000 civilians Israeli-Jews blown up to their death by Palestmuslim terrorists (mostly by suicide bombers) during the "Oslo peace" initiative. It appears clearly that the Palestmuslim tactics is murdering their opponent from a standpoint of self-made poor victims in order to raise sympathy from the non- involved

      October 2, 2012 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Taher

      1027 prisoners were exchanged for one soldier, that shows the sufferings of hundreds of thousands of Palestines at Israeli Prisons. those were confined because they struggle against those like you who indulge themselves in persecuting people. those who do not have dislodged from their homes, their lands, their country to be replaced by a Jewish from Russia or Poland or others. the people such you will not stop calumnies, but truth will never be changed.

      October 3, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • David Negev

      Palestmuslims came to Israel (Palestine is a name given to Israel by the Roman conquerors) from different parts of Asia, Africa. Part of the Palestmuslims are ex-Jews who lived in Israel for thousands of years but had to convert to Islam (or die) under the Islamic conquerors. Many of these ex-Jews are still practicing hidingly Jewish tradition ceremonies. If they will be caught they might be persecuted by their fellow Muslim neighbors. Islamic Sharia law command Muslims to fight any Israeli-Jewish autonomic sellement. Therefoe Palestmuslims massacered Israeli-Jews wherevever they wanted, until the Jews could finally defend themselves.

      October 3, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Americans snubbed jews

    Prior to the outbreak of the US finally joining the war, Hitler allowed jews to leave Germany and seek asylum elsewhere, on one stipulation: At the German border, they had to declare their valuables. (just like US Customs today)
    99.9% of all jews chose to stay behind with their ghetto walls stuffed with treasures. The few that boarded ships bounf for the US were NOT allowed safe harbor in America, and were FORCED to return to Germany.
    Get real. Americans despise greedy jewish bankers and don't REALLY believe they are "God's chosen" as priest and preacherman say.

    September 30, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  5. banasy©

    Eggs, Toilet Paper, And Your School?
    The Man In The Moon Is Actually Satan?
    LMAO!!!!

    September 30, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  6. dazzle ©

    Rascal Rabble, he's all yours. I am outta here.

    September 30, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Rascal Rabble

    okay why didjah take down the kiddy book comment...and whatsup with no updates for the weekend...bobcat is right on with that one...what else canyado with stale bread but make bread puddin...

    September 30, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mary

    The Jews who believed that Jesus was and is the messiah became christians ... ones who began to follow the "blueprint" that Jesus laid out as a reference for humans to shoot for. Never did he expect for anyone to be able to mimic to perfection his life on earth. Thus, Jesus paving a way put, for those who do and will understand.

    Catholics do NOT seek to correct the mistakes in their translation of the bible they follow. Therefore leading to confusion.
    That is ONLY my take on the reasoning behind the word catholic meaning "confusion"

    I will be busy for the rest of the day, sorry.
    Have a great Sunday all. 🙂

    September 30, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mary

      To clearify: Mistakes made in translation of the Bible that have been made.

      September 30, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rascal Rabble

      i must conclude that you people are looney and should read some legitimate sources on how the bible came to be...

      September 30, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mary

      @ Rascal Rabble, I would be most interested in hearing your thoughts on "how the Bible came to be", and I'm not asking with any sarcasm either, just curious.

      September 30, 2012 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |
  9. banasy©

    Hooey.
    Mistakes in translations and interpretations are always made when it comes to the Bible; the Bible means something different to every person who reads it.
    In other words, there really isn't a correct way to interpret it.

    Hate on the Catholics all one wants; we all know the reasons for some who hate the Catholics have *nothing* to do with the Bible AT ALL.

    Leave people's faith alone.
    There IS no wrong way to love the Lord.

    September 30, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      And to clarify, this is only my opinion, and that's all.

      September 30, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mary

    Thank you. 🙂
    In answer to that ... One name: Sibel D Edmonds. Did she not stop the "trickle down effect" with her corrections in translations.
    Im headed out the door, so this is really it for me for today.

    September 30, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Nun

    None (or very few) truly believe Obama and Romney when these men speak of a "Satan" with a so-called "burning hell". We play along with them b/c they are our only two choices.
    A man who strictly ran for President on a solid scientific platform (no wolf gods, nobody goes to hell and burns forever, etc) would win hands down. Especially if he could somehow garner 97% of votes cast by black citizens. (you can keep the ho mose xual vote, hardly any)

    September 30, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  12. LMAO

    Old ladies think it's right to send back an improperly prepared meal at the Burger King, but when it comes to Christ as King, any old dish will do. Prepare yourselves to be presented to God in any way YOU see fit.
    "He [Jesus] said to them [Jewish leaders]: 'Isaiah aptly prophecied about you HYPOCRITES, as it is written, "This people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far removed from me. It is IN VAIN that they keep worshiping me, because they teach as doctrines commands of men."'"-Mark 7:6,7 (this isn't a complicated message Jesus was sending us. You don't need an "expert opinion" as to what he is saying. A child can understand Jesus' words)

    September 30, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  13. LMAO

    "The meek shall inherit the earth and find exquisite delight in the abundance of peace." is a famous saying of Jesus. Notice warmongers aren't the ones who will come to have peace on earth.
    President Obama is NOT the Prince of Peace. Jesus Christ your lord and savior is, however. So why do you follow Obama instead of Jesus?
    "If they truly loved me they would obey my commands."-another famous quote of Jesus.

    September 30, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  14. know your bible

    "And in the days of those kings, the God of heaven will establish a Kingdom that will CRUSH and PUT AN END to all these other kingdoms of man." (Daniel 2:44-read on)
    "Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom COME, THY will be done on earth as it is in heaven."-The Model Prayer, aka "Lord's Prayer"
    Many confuse their government with God and obey the laws of men in government (complicated tax laws and criminal justice codes, etc) but do not obey simple to understand laws of God.
    Some even confuse love of their own country with love of government! Here on these blogs! Daily!
    Come to know your bible and this confusion of yours goes away.

    September 30, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  15. are the palestinians pathetic or what! lol

    eom

    September 30, 2012 at 11:33 pm | Report abuse |
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