The alternative football World Cup – in the Gaza Strip

A player kisses the Gaza cup. Photo by Patrick.

They are massively into their football and dream of going to South Africa for the World Cup. But they live in the Gaza Strip and the borders are closed.

So - the Palestinian Football Federation, with children's charity Kitegang and the United Nations Development Programme, decided to host their very own "Gaza World Cup 2010".

The event is taking place over the first two weeks in May - "so as not to clash" with the tournament in South Africa which begins on June 11.

The matches are held in the "Yarmouk" and "Palestine" stadiums. Sixteen teams, made up of local players and some representatives of respective countries, are vying for the coveted trophy.

"You want to go to South Africa but the borders are closed? Well the World Cup has come to Gaza." Photo from the Gaza World Cup 2010 website.

"Even the American team was warmly received"

American Patrick McGann, who works for Kitegang in the Palestinian territories, is one of the “Gaza World Cup” organisers.

We organised the tournament in partnership with 16 Gazan football teams, of which 14 are professional clubs. Some of the players are local amateurs; others are foreigners working here in the enclave, either as humanitarian aid workers or as journalists.

Each team includes some professional Palestinian players, which means that the standard of the football will be at a decent enough level to pull in the crowds.

Finding a good balance for the teams has been complicated. For example, with the South African team, we know we have one South African player who is a UN employee. But all the other players are locals.

Posted on Facebook by Nermeen Al-Bukhari.

The aim is to give Gazans and foreigners working here something that they can share. At the opening game, some 5,000 spectators showed up. They were all happy to be able to socialise and relax, bearing in mind that they live in what is usually an extremely stressful environment. There is absolutely nothing political about the event, and even the American team was warmly received.

Making the trophy, from scrap metal taken from building destroyed in the violence.

At the end of the tournament, the victorious team will be presented with the "Gaza World Cup" trophy. This is modelled on the FIFA trophy that will be presented to the winning team in South Africa. But ours has been made from scrap metal recovered from buildings in Gaza that have been destroyed. It's our way of showing that we are respectful of how tough daily life is here in Gaza.

The opening ceremony. Posted on Facebook by Nermeen Al-Bukhari.

The fans. Posted on Facebook by Nermeen Al-Bukhari.

"We were the only girls in the stadium"

Lina is a student living in Gaza. She writes a blog titled "Live from Gaza - 360km² of Chaos"

May 2 was the opening game but unfortunately I missed it. But yesterday (May 3), my friends and I attended our very first football match.

Stadiums in Gaza are for men. Girls going to watch a football match is not a familiar thing. So, my friend and I were worried that our parents would not let us go. Surprisingly, my father gave me permission, assuming that I would be bored and leave at once.

I am not a fan of football. But that didn't mean that I didn't want to try the feeling of being in a football ground watching people cheering over men passing a ball.

England-Jam3y Rafah vs. Ireland-Friendship

The match was at 5pm. We didn't want to be three girls going into male-dominated territory alone, so the brothers of some friends came with us (although they are much younger than us!).

We three scarf-wearing girls were given looks that said "what are you doing here?" by the guards at the stadium. They thought we were journalists, but we innocently said that "We are here because we want to watch the game." 

Still surprised, they gave us seats among the foreign supporters. We were the literally the only girls at the game except for a few who came later on.

The "Palestine" stadium was not full, as it was at the opening match.

The match started while we were making our way to our seats. The teams playing were Jama'y Rafah England versus Friendship-Ireland.

I was "cheering" for Ireland (I didn't really cheer, but I supported Ireland) while my friends were supporting England.

"England" vs "Ireland"


Children hold the Gaza Cup. Photo posted by Patrick.



"Save Gaza. Freedom for Palestine."

The fans.

The referees.

The "United States" team and two "Serbia" players.


What world do you live in?

Ok the above (previous) commentators need to answer this, "What world do you live in?".

How about this.... do any of you own a house or a mansion? I have so many homeless that I can bring to your home to live and then lets see you embrace them... oh even better, if you own a 10 bedroom house, we will occupy 9 and leave you the last one and then ask you to embrace us. In fact we will take over your rooms and your hallways and restrict your movement to the other rooms and bathrooms and the kitchen and the exit and we will tell you to be peaceful and sign on the dotted line to say that we belong there and the other 9 rooms belong to us and we will then leave you in peace. So please embrace us! accept us! We are of peace! (I sound like Anna from V).

Oh and the only thing that is restricting you moving around your own house is yourself. It is all your fault. So stop fighting us! How about that.

Ignorance is dangerous and there is no cure for fools.

True... and so the question

True... and so the question is: who actually owns this house? - and the answer depends on how far back in history you care to dig, especially if the deeper you dig the less favorable it looks for your cause... (speaking of ignorance).

The ONLY way I see out of this cluster@#$% is to accept the things the way they are, including that there is no way to completely satisfy either side, and move on from there with the best of all involved in mind, not just some - I bet you there is enough room in that house for everybody that is currently there to live comfortably and in peace, the only thing that is needed is the good will - everything else will fall in place, and very fast.

The alternative is simple:

The alternative is simple: renounce terror as your strategy, agree to live in peace with your neighbors - and your borders will open right away - maybe even on time to get to South Africa for the real World Cup.
I am a little confused, though about the United Nations Development Programme that is, apparently, sponsoring this event instead of trying to stop the terror and promote the peace - but that's a separate issue...


Well thats good,but they enemny is'nt israel,it is its leaders,and they ideaology of hate.something must be wrong,if your govt is only interested in the removal of the Israel as a nation.And not in its welfare of its people.Schools ,hospitals,industry,and all the benefits which civilised people enjoy,it should be your govts priority.not in terrorist activities.

I agree, it sad; these are

I agree, it sad; these are people; no different than you and me. But their leaders instill a hatred for Israel that pretty much defines their existence. Israel is not their enemy; their leaders are. And until they learn to accept Israel; they will never be "accepted" themselves. I say to all Palestinians: Terrorism IS NOT the answer; embrace Israel and Israel will embrace you; it's your move...

This is Serious

This is what we are saying , their leaders are just selfish and their not ready to change until they see that there on wrong side they we not free.