A soccer shirt has ignited a war of words between Chile’s Jewish and Palestinian Arab communities.
According to The Associated Press (AP), the Palestino soccer club of Chile’s first division recently released its new jersey. Many were outraged because shirts that include the number “1″ show the numeral in the shape of Israel, thus implying that all the land is “Palestinian territory”.
Gerardo Gorodischer, president of Chile’s Jewish Community, told AP that the group is demanding an apology from the club and asking Chile’s soccer association not to allow the shirts because they don’t recognize the Israeli state.
“We know that FIFA prohibits such actions,” Gorodischer told reporters, adding, “You cannot make a political claim and import the Middle East conflict using the platform of football, using the sport to lie and hate.”
Gabriel Zaliasnik , former head of Chile’s Jewish Community, tweeted, according to International Business Times, "This act of smugness by the irresponsible mangers of Palestino is offensive to the whole Chilean Jewish community. It's unprecedented.”
Zaliasnik added that the shirt incited to violence and hatred, thus breaching FIFA regulations.
Chile’s Palestinian Federation said in a statement Monday that it backs the club’s choice of the shirt.
“We reject the hypocrisy of those who blame this map, but they talk about the occupied territory as disputed territory,” said the statement, quoted by The Washington Times.
AP noted that Chile’s Palestinian Arab community is among the world’s largest, numbering about 350,000.
According to International Business Times, Palestino was founded by members of the Palestinian Arab community in Chile and plays in the country’s top division. The club's colors are those of the PLO flag: black, white, green and red.