Palestinian football chief urges Atletico Madrid to cancel Jerusalem game

The match, which could include stars like Antoine Griezmann, is scheduled to take place in Jerusalem on May 21, (AFP/File photo)
Updated 10 May 2019
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Palestinian football chief urges Atletico Madrid to cancel Jerusalem game

  • Palestinian football chief Jibril Rajoub has sent letters to Atletico and the European and Spanish associations
  • They will face Beitar Jerusalem, whose fans are known to chant anti-Arab slogans

RAMALLAH: The head of the Palestinian Football Association has sent letters to the European and Spanish associations demanding Spanish football giants Atletico Madrid cancel a post-season friendly with an Israeli team in Jerusalem.
Jibril Rajoub has also sent a letter to Atletico calling on them to scrap the planned May 21 game with Beitar Jerusalem, a controversial Israeli team.
“We are not against playing in Israel, but not in occupied Jerusalem,” the letter said, according to a post on the football association’s Facebook page late Thursday.
He said there were many Atletico Madrid fans in the Palestinian territories who were shocked they would play against Beitar, who he labelled “high level racists.”
Israel considers all of Jerusalem its undivided capital but the Palestinians consider the eastern part of the city as the capital of their future state.
The Teddy Stadium, where the game will be played, is in west Jerusalem.
The complaint was reminiscent of a similar one ahead of the 2018 World Cup, when Argentina were due to play Israel in Jerusalem as part of their warm-up for the tournament.
That game was eventually canceled after pressure from pro-Palestinian campaigners, though Rajoub was sanctioned by FIFA for comments in which he called on fans to burn Argentinian star Lionel Messi’s shirt.
Beitar Jerusalem have a controversial history in Israel, being the only side to have never signed an Arab Muslim player.
Beitar, whose fans have been known to chant “Death to Arabs” at matches, have of late been struggling to change their racist image.


Turkey sends weapons to opposition fighters in Syria

Turkish-backed Syrian opposition fighters get a major boost as Ankara backs them with fresh supplies of weaponry to help them hold their ground. (Reuters)
Updated 26 May 2019
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Turkey sends weapons to opposition fighters in Syria

  • Ankara signals readiness to preserve its influence in Syria’s Idlib province in northwestern region

AMMAN: Turkey has equipped an array of mainstream Syrian opposition fighters it backs with fresh supplies of weaponry to help them try to repel a major Russian-backed assault, senior opposition officials and opposition sources said on Saturday.
Russia is backing the Syrian army’s large aerial and ground assault as it seeks to gain control of the last big stretch of opposition-held territory in the northwest of the country.
Syria’s Bashar Assad launched the assault last month, saying fighters had breached an existing cease-fire, triggering a civilian exodus by bombarding Idlib and adjacent areas. It has been the biggest escalation since last summer between Assad and the opposition fighters in Idlib province and a belt of territory around it.
Ankara stepped up supplies in recent days after failing to persuade Russia in recent meetings of a joint working group that it should end its escalation to avert a major influx of refugees pouring into Turkey, two senior opposition figures said.

FASTFACT

Ankara stepped up supplies in recent days after failing to persuade Russia in recent meetings of a joint working group that it should end its escalation to avert a major influx of refugees pouring into Turkey.

In doing so Turkey signaled its readiness to preserve its influence in northwestern Syria, where it has beefed up its troop presence in a dozen military bases that were set up under a de-escalation deal with Russia, a senior opposition commander said. Turkish officials were not immediately available for comment.
Overnight, a Turkish military convoy arrived in a base in northern Hama near opposition-held Jabal Al-Zawiya, where Russian and Syrian jets have been pounding for weeks, a fighter and a witness said.
The delivery of dozens of armored vehicles, Grad rocket launchers, anti-tank guided missiles helped roll back some army gains and retake the strategically located town of Kfar Nabouda.