Archive | August, 2014

From Dundalk to the sea, Palestine will be free

26 Aug

A few weeks ago I flew a Palestine flag at a Galway FC match. Admittedly I was the only person in the stadium doing such a thing, but within seconds the singing section changed their chants and were merrily roaring “Palestine!” for a minute or so. A nice bit of solidarity all the way from Deacy Park, especially for those young boys who were murdered on a beach in Gaza for the crime of playing football. 

Had that been a UEFA qualifying match, I probably would have brought a hefty fine on the heads of the Maroon army. Such is the case with Dundalk FC – who are facing a fine of €18,000, from UEFA, for having fans who dared to fly such a “political” flag as that of Palestine. UEFA regard the flying of the flag as a breach of their conditions, despite Ajax flying Israeli flags at all of their matches – both UEFA and Dutch League. Let’s not mention how the 2013 UEFA Under-21 Championships were held in Israel; obviously holding matches in Jerusalem is nowhere near as political as a black, red, green and white flag. 

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UEFA fined Atletico Madrid €10,000 earlier this year when fans of the club engaged in horrific racist chanting. Going back to the rules and regulations in place here; one must come to the conclusion that UEFA see the presence of the Palestine flag as more offensive than black footballers being subjected to monkey-chanting. Maybe these figures are arbitrary, made up on the spot…however it does seem to be presupposed that all clubs can afford such fines. Any fan of any League of Ireland club knows that €18,000 is quite a hefty blow to the financial prospects of their team. Dundalk FC would only win €100,000 if they won the league this year; we’re not dealing with massive conglomerates like AC Milan or Chelsea. In Modern Football, solidarity with people living under occupation is deemed offensive and if your team is guilty, they’d be expected to have the balance sheet of a multi-national corporation in order to deal with the consequences. 

What to do? Well first off, the hundreds and thousands of us across Ireland who’ve been expressing solidarity with Palestine these past few weeks should stand with Dundalk FC and support their non-payment of the fine. Football is a sport of the masses, and many of those people can both support their local team and express solidarity with oppressed peoples abroad. Those young boys who died on that Gaza beach have more in common with the young kids kicking a ball about in a Dundalk estate, than with any bureaucrats in UEFA. 

I’ll be bringing a Palestine flag to the Galway FC match on Friday, I urge you to do similar. They may not be UEFA matches but the solidarity we can send to Palestine and with Dundalk FC, will help the Louth club stand in defiance of UEFA’s hypocritical rules.