Sports Racism reducing my desire to play football: Brazil’s Vinicius

Bangladeshis voice solidarity as Palestinian squad plays World Cup qualifier in Dhaka


DHAKA: Bangladeshis voiced on Sunday their solidarity with the Palestinian football team ahead of a World Cup qualifier match in Dhaka. 

Football is one of the most popular sports in Bangladesh, with passionate fans from the South Asian country often making international headlines for their enthusiasm, especially during the World Cup. 

The nation’s love for football will again be demonstrated on Tuesday, when Bangladesh’s national team plays a second World Cup qualifier match against the Palestinian squad at the Bashundhara Kings Arena. 

The Palestinian football team, which was recognized as a full member by the sport’s governing body FIFA in 1998, won 5-0 on Thursday in the first of two qualifiers against Bangladesh. 

Though Bangladeshis will support the home team during the upcoming match, their solidarity with Palestine amid Israel’s war on Gaza will also be unwavering. 

“When it’s sports on the field, undoubtedly the audience will support their home team. It’s very natural … (but) the people of Bangladesh are always with our Palestinian brothers and sisters,” Satyajit Das Rupu, an executive committee member of the Bangladesh Football Federation, told Arab News. 

Since the beginning of the Israeli onslaught on the Gaza Strip in early October, the Bangladeshi government has repeatedly denounced the bombardments while its citizens have shown solidarity through protests and initiatives to raise awareness about the ongoing Israeli attacks on the besieged enclave. 

“I hope the aggression against the Palestinians will come to an end soon. World leaders should act immediately and decisively in this regard without any delay. By this time, we have seen enough atrocities in Gaza,” Rupu said. 

For Sonia Ahmed, a 37-year-old homemaker in Dhaka, the upcoming World Cup qualifier match in Dhaka is a reminder of how football “connects everyone” from around the globe. 

“The Palestinian football team will play on the soil of Bangladesh. It’s a rare opportunity for the Muslims of this country to express their solidarity with the Palestinians, especially when they (Palestinians) are facing the highest level of atrocities committed by the occupying Israeli forces during this holy month of Ramadan,” Ahmed told Arab News. 

She said the Palestinian team’s presence at the qualifier is a way of raising awareness about Israel’s war on Gaza, which has killed over 32,200 Palestinians.  

“Amid this war, the Palestinian football team is announcing their presence to the international community with the language of football. It’s a unique way of protesting against the inaction of the world, which has failed to stop the Israeli aggression. I salute this Palestinian spirit.” 

Like most Bangladeshis, Bashar Hossain will be cheering for the national team to win the qualifier match. But he also remains steadfast in his support for Palestinian freedom. 

The Bangladeshi people have always supported the Palestinian cause, Hossain told Arab News.

The international community, he added, is not doing enough to bring Israel’s oppression of Palestine to an end. 

“I think, the most popular sport of the world — football — brought us an opportunity to remind the people about the ongoing sufferings of the Palestinians … It’s amazing to observe the resilience of the Palestinian football team amid this ongoing war,” he said. 

“I think Palestinian footballers are now playing on the ground with double the spirit to show the world how indomitable they are.” 

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