How Palestine “won” the World Cup


The power of sport to influence politics has always been a feature of international sporting events, as has the hypocrisy of governments, New Zealand included, when it comes to issues of human rights.

Despite neither Israel nor Palestine being at the Fifa World Cup, the issue of Palestine has been the most visible political issue on display.

The World Cup isn’t over yet, but Palestine has already won” is just one of the many headlines around the world talking about the high visibility of Palestine at the event and the cross-global support Palestinians enjoy in their indigenous struggle for human rights and self-determination.

Social media is awash with dozens of amusing video clips where Israeli journalists attempt to interview fans outside venues, only to be drowned out by passionate messages of support for Palestine as soon as they identify as Israeli.

“Palestine, Palestine – free Palestine” is the typical refrain – not just from Arab fans, but from soccer supporters from all corners of the globe.

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It didn’t start out that way.

The global campaign to isolate and punish Russia for its invasion and occupation of Ukraine dominated the run-up to the World Cup.

The world governing body for soccer, FIFA, and the European soccer federation, UAFA, suspended Russian national and club teams from international soccer within four days of the invasion.

Many European teams, in particular, have displayed Ukrainian colours, and displays of support for Ukraine were officially sanctioned by the cup organisers.

In response, soccer fans at the World Cup have normalised support for Palestine as the West has normalised support for Ukraine. The outpouring of love and human connection with Palestine cannot be ignored.

Western hypocrisy was neatly summed up by Egyptian squash player Ali Faraj, who won the Optasia Squash Championship in London earlier this year, saying: “We have never been allowed to speak about politics in sports, but all of a sudden, it’s allowed.

“So [now] that we are allowed, I hope that people also look at the oppression everywhere in the world.

“I mean, the Palestinians have been going through that for the past 74 years, but I guess because it doesn’t fit the narrative of the media of the West we couldn’t talk about it, but now that we can talk about Ukraine, we can talk about the Palestinians, so please keep that in mind.”

Other human rights issues have also featured at the cup. The treatment of migrant workers and the lack of LGBTQ rights in Qatar have been in the spotlight.

Even US Secretary of state Antony Blinken, who sees the US as the final arbiter on which human rights are important (certainly not Palestinian rights!), criticised the ban on teams wearing rainbow colours.

He said the ban was “concerning” and a restriction on “freedom of expression”.

Deeper problems with selectively calling out human rights issues have been identified by Navid Zarrinnal, a Stanford University academic who says “Western supremacist attitudes and cultural imperialism” are being showcased at the World Cup – “disguised”, as usual, as “advocacy for human rights”.

Zarrinnal says the people who are “parachuting into Qatar to lecture them about gay rights” are ignorant of the long history of homosexuality in the Arab world, which is “reflected in their poetry, visual art, and social history”.

All human rights are important, and selectively calling them out according to Western interests should have no place for this country which, quite rightly, condemns Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and supports migrant rights (in Qatar at least, if not here at home), and LGBTQ rights, but is silent about the Israel-Palestine conflict and the longest military occupation in modern history.

Politics at the 2022 World Cup are a far cry from earlier times when “keep politics out of sport” was a mantra which enabled people to enjoy sport while ignoring human rights abuses.

For Palestine, it’s also a far cry from 2016 when Glasgow’s Celtic Football Club was fined €10,000 (NZ$19,200) because their fans displayed Palestinian flags at Celtic Park during a game with Israeli team Hapoel Beer-Sheva in a Champions League qualification match.

Celtic fans set up a crowdfunding page to pay the fine and raised vastly more than the amount of the fine, which was then used “to provide basic medical supplies to conflict-hit Gaza and some football kit to enable young people of Aida refugee camp in the West Bank to start up a team”.

It’s hard to see the politics genie being put back in the sport bottle now and neither should it be. Human rights – all breaches of human rights – are a common cause for all of humanity.

At the football World Cup, the “winning” Palestinian flag is not just a symbol of international solidarity with Palestinians – it is also a symbol of our own hypocrisy.



  1. Very true John. It’s been beautiful to see the hypocricy of Western regime media sources, which pretend to represent ‘the world’ or ‘the international community’ exposed.

    The majority of the world- both people, and governments- don’t think the zionist entity should exist, because its only purpose is the genocide of the Palestinian people. We’ve seen that sentiment expressed at the Cup from everyone from Arab countries whose controlled governments have ‘normalized’ and pretended the entity is real, the people who the zionists thought their conspiracies had neutered, to English football fans, even ones who don’t remember the campaign of terrorism the zionists conducted against British people.

    God bless humanity. We’ve shown the zionists that they aren’t welcome to steal Palestine, or any nation. Now it’s time to take it further.

  2. As usual you have clearly and correctly argued the hypocrisy of the West. Perhaps the media should speak the truth about the proxy war Ukraine is fighting on behalf of the U.S and the NATO war mongers. The people of Ukraine are suffering and dying so the US can profit both in sales of weapons and the manipulation of the energy sector.
    When will the world and the American public wake up to the manipulation that their Government’s have inflicted on the world since the end of World war 11.
    Who will be next? China anyone?

    • Absolutely true, but the US good, Russia bad, we go along with all this crap as part of our INDEPENDENT FOREIGN POLICY LOL

  3. well well well ,,, lookie lookie ,,,, the cheerleaders for racist terrorist infused zionists/Israel,,,, are the loudest defenders of the Bandera parts of Ukraine, and their discrimination/hatred of indigenous Russian Ukrainians.,,, Defenders of Nazis.

    Why Are Harvard And NASA Honoring Nazis?–ZG7Y?list=LL&t=1611

    Israels new Govt should be reflected in a new name for their country ,,,, Kahanistan ,,,, named after the terrorist ideology of Kahanists.

    Meir Kahane in 5 minutes

  4. Agree 100% Ken Young.
    Also the resurrection of Netanyahu’s political career by way of Kahanist extremists is, seemingly, to avoid corruption charges in what can only be described as a bizarre example of how sad and destructive Israeli politics is.

  5. I criticized your continued concentration on Palestine in these last days. But it expresses the best of features of us by which we can fight our ‘end of days’.

    Israel is the ‘wrongest’ colonial state. By the time and the number of people of the land.

    • I am not sure why you would criticise John for his continued concentration on Palestine, he is after all the Chair of Palestine Solidarity Aotearoa. That is his job!

      He is also chair of State Housing Action Network and organised a public meeting on Monday night in Otautahi with the human rights commissioner to talk about housing as a human right. I know he has written about that as well. It is his job!

      Did you criticise him when writing about SA in 1981 when he was the national organiser for HART.

      There are always people who want to point out all the other things he apparently should be doing, whilst sitting on their own hands.

      He knows about West Papuans, he knows about the plight of the Kurds, he knows about the plight of the Western Sahara people, he knows about the situation in Tigray, he knows about the situation in Kashmir…

      • You got the wrong end of the handle. Climate change is the end, John is a champion for reality , we need him where things matter. In my post I recognised how the Palestinian struggle mattered for that.

  6. Some good news ,,,,

    1) John Minto is not the only one stating the truth ,,,, How Palestine Won The World Cup 2022 In Qatar…

    2) “Thanks to ordinary Palestinians, those who have held on to the keys and deeds to their original homes and land in historic Palestine, history is finally being rewritten, back to its original and accurate form.” ,,,

    “Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, rightly understood the UN’s decision as a major step towards the delegitimization of Israel as a military occupier of Palestine. “Try to imagine the international community commemorating your country’s Independence Day by calling it a disaster. What a disgrace,” he said.

    Absent from Erdan’s remarks and other responses by the Israeli officials is the mere hint of political or even moral accountability for the ethnic cleansing of over 530 Palestinian towns and villages, and the expulsion of over 750,000 Palestinians, whose descendants are now numbered in millions of refugees.”

    3) Palestine Action ,, “Yet there is some good news. Sick of meaningless political tactics that do nothing to fight injustice, Palestine Action took matters into their own hands and directly occupied a number of arms manufacturing sites across Great Britain. Their successes only spurred more people to get involved. As Palestine Action co-founder Huda Amori said,

    It [Palestine Action] had to start, had to happen, couldn’t sit by and know that this factory was operating in the same country… when you’re doing the kind of grassroots activism. It’s very easy to have hope when you see people rising up.” ,,,

    Ploughshares/Plowshares type protests by Palestine Action lead to arrests in Britain ,,,, and the first jury trial lead to a prompt unanimous Not Guilty verdict ,,, the Kahanist type Zionists will be spinning and spitting tacks 🙂 . ,,,, I’ve linked to the start of the Palestine Action section ,,,, but I advise watching the whole hugely informative program…..

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