RAM, West Bank (AP) Palestinians may not have a state, but now they have a way to express their national pride — through soccer.
On Sunday, the national team hosted an international match for the first time, in the West Bank’s only regulation-size stadium. Located in a West Bank suburb of Jerusalem, the stadium was renovated with the help of FIFA, soccer’s governing body, and other donors.
Thousands watched the friendly game against Jordan, and the crowd roared as Palestinian forward Ahmed Kashkash scored several minutes after kickoff. Jordan tied early in the second half. The game ended in a 1-1 tie.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter was on hand to cheer. “We are here to realize a dream, that is the national team of Palestine playing in its own stadium,” Blatter said, calling the event “historic.”
Some said the international recognition was important. “We now have a stadium, and the Palestinian flag will be flying in this stadium,” Wissam Abu Sharif, a 30-year-old Palestinian soccer fan, said ahead of the game. “Palestine is on the map of international sports.”
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