The Palestinian National Football Team is a team surrounded by controversy. Ever since FIFA allowed the disputed territory to become a member, this team has represented an ongoing political conflict, as well as carried the hopes of an aspiring nation.
Football Palestine is a blog dedicated solely to following the Palestinian national team. It is run by two main writers, Aboud and Bassil, who are both avid fans and followers of the team. They are both well-versed and up-to-date in their team news, as well as honest, even in their discussion of more touchy matters, such as the conflicts in Gaza over the summer of 2014 and its effects on the team. Also, Bassil notes that he enjoys “tracking lesser known national teams- especially ones in Asia and the Arab World.”
The blog goes in depth into analysis on the quality of football executed by the team. The blog both analyzes individual matches as well as overall performances in tournaments. Furthermore, the blog gives news and updates about the team and its players, such as tracking the players through conflict in the Palestinian Territories (#GazaUnderAttack), as well as detailing player reactions after games (Ramzi Saleh apologizes to fans following blowout loss to Jordan), and so on. Also, the blog has the occasional post with historical background and context on the team or matches it’s about to have (Historical Analysis: How will Palestine fare at their first Asian Cup?).
A typical blog post is one of their “Rapid Reaction” posts after a game, such as Rapid Reaction: Japan 4:0 Palestine (2015 Asian Cup). Articles such as this contain a few key sections that are very straightforward in the way they convey information about the match. They include details on who played, who scored, who was penalized, substituted, and so on. There is a ‘highlights’ section to recap the game. And then, the post is wrapped up with ‘What I liked’ ‘What I didn’t like’, ‘Fan Atmosphere,’ ‘Man of the Match’, and ‘What’s Next’ sections. Articles like this give brief descriptions of the game with necessary details and are very useful to a fan who missed the game looking to get a run-down on what happened and why.
One post that stuck out to me, however, was #GazaUnderAttack, for obvious reasons. This post was a rare one on the blog. Plenty of posts discuss the disorder and chaos that the Palestinian team has to deal with, and it alludes to some amount of political conflict, but there are hardly any posts dedicated to directly discussing the contextual issues of the region. This post itself even includes somewhat of a remorseful introductory statement. The bloggers write,
“It’s hard to write in these types of circumstances. The world is talking about Palestine- but not about the epic run to Asian Cup qualification secured two months ago.”
This apologetic opening thought is a powerful way to frame the issue. It states the conflict in terms of an unpleasant occurrence- they’d rather be discussing the successes of the football team, not discussion political turmoil. The rest of this post is shaped as such. It details the losses and chaos in the Gaza region in terms of the soccer world. Deceased players, a referee, and others harmed who are connected to Palestinian football in some way are discussed. This was an effective way to frame the issue because it pulls it into a context of regretful acknowledgement- the bloggers remind the reader that they want to focus on football, but this conflict is getting in the way and causing major problems for them and the team. With this framing, the post was a powerful way to get their message across in a professional and cautious way.
Additionally, the blog contains a variety of other features, including connections to other forms of social media. For instance, they have a column with all of their latest twitter updates (@FutbolPalestine), where they tweet and retweet news and pictures about the team. Also, they have a column for their YouTube channel (Football Palestine), which is mainly comprised of videos of highlight reels from certain matches. There is the occasional news update on their YouTube channel as well, though, in the form of a video. All three forms of media run by the Football Palestine bloggers appear interconnected and cover generally similar topics- the main differences is that the twitter covers things without depth and gives the most news updates, the YouTube channel is updated least frequently and is mainly focused on the matches, and the blog is somewhat of an intermediate that focuses on analysis of the matches and key pieces of news.
In addition, the blog includes a column that updates the West Bank League Standings. It contains a League Table, Results, and Fixtures to track the Palestinean team and players as they play in their domestic stage. The blog also has a section tracking the matches in the 2015 AFC Asian Cup, with their final scores and results, and a section for upcoming matches.
Another interesting aspect of the blog is its spotlight on the team members. Not only is there a ‘Player Database,’ but also there is a section dedicated to ‘Players of Palestinian Origin” where the players’ backgrounds, positions, and short biographical information is given. However, there is a touchy catch. There is a note on the page detailing the bloggers’ beliefs on a political issue regarding Palestinian team membership. The controversial note reads,
“There’s been a spate of South American players who ply their trade in Saudi Arabia and the UAE who have applied and bizarrely received Palestinian documents. Football Palestine regards these players as scam artists who have no ties to Palestine and have acquired documentation through an illicit process to help their clubs sign more non-Asian players.”
This strange note stands as a stark contrast to the rest of the blog, especially in regards to controversial issues. It’s surprising that the bloggers took such a harsh stance on this issue, as opposed to the professional and honest assessment of the violent situation in Gaza. Hard words such as this are rare in the blog and should not be seen as the norm for what these bloggers produce.
All in all, the blog itself is a great resource for information on the soccer schedule, performance analysis, and major news updates of the Palestinian National Football Team. However, the blog is not a great resource for discussion of political issues surrounding the team- those are few and far between- and the related political issues are actually covered more on the blog’s related twitter account. This blog is to the core about the soccer played by the Palestinian team, and while the team is stuck in a whirlwind of conflict, Football Palestine, for the most part, strives to look past that and focus on what those men are there for- the football itself.