Palestinian National Team in 1931 The Majority Contains Jewish Players (Photo: Israel Football Association)

Appearing before about 28 thousand host supporters at the Patriot Candrabaga Stadium, City of Bekasi, Wednesday (08/15/2018), the Palestinian U-23 team did not appear depressed. Abdallatif al-Bahdari et al. feels like playing at home. A number of Palestinian flags were displayed, hoisted, and even choreographed Indonesian U-23 national team supporters.

Indeed, there have been several cheers when the Palestinian players hold the ball. But strangely, once in a while the support song was heard, "Palestine ... Palestine!" From Indonesian supporters.

What happened in the elimination match of Group A of the men's soccer branch of the 2018 Asian Games was a proof of the solidarity of the Indonesian people and Palestine very closely. Indonesia since the time of President Sukarno has installed a body in the front row supporting Palestinian independence. From time to time, aid continues to be channeled to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, including the establishment of Indonesian Hospitals in Palestine.

Inevitably, political matters enter the arena. Even though repeatedly PSSI (the parent of Indonesian football) fined Liga Indonesia clubs because their supporters unfurled the Palestinian flag, the Palestinian flag remained the second banner carried by supporters at the Patriot Stadium.

At the post-match press conference, Palestinian national team coach Ayman Sandouqa offered his thanks. "Thanks to the Indonesian supporters who supported us even though we were against the home team," Sandouqa said.

Indonesian supporters did bow their heads because their idol team lost 1-2 to Palestine. However, it does not just throw away solidarity. From Historia's observation, a number of Indonesian supporters gathered outside the post-match stadium, shouting the "Palestinian" chant when the Palestinian team bus slowly left the stadium.

For the Garuda Team, the results obtained are painful because they have targets to reach the semifinals. Moreover, Indonesia has long enjoyed independence but remains inferior to the Palestinian team which up to this point is still undermined by its neighbor, Israel.

Palestinian Football History Sheet

Palestinian National Team in 1931 The Majority Contains Jewish Players (Photo: Israel Football Association)

The zero point of the round skin game in Palestine and Indonesia is actually not much different. Their soccer parent was founded in 1928, the same year as the establishment of Persija Jakarta. But long before that, football was contagious in Palestine after being played by British soldiers during World War I.

The ball virus then spread to the community. However, according to Richard Henshaw in The Encyclopedia of World Soccer, the development of football in Palestine after World War I actually revolved only among Jews. Muslim Arabs were still banned from playing football because they were considered Western cultures.

As a result, when Palestinian authority is in the hands of British Mandatory, clubs that develop only belong to Jews. In addition to Maccabi Haifa, there is a Tel Aviv Hapoel or a British-owned club, The Gaza Flyers. Only after that were Arab Palestinian clubs born, one of them was Islamic Sports Club. Nusseibeh's family-owned club is the only Palestinian Arab club among 14 Jewish teams who co-founded the Palestinian football parent, the Palestine Football Association (PFA), on August 14, 1928 in Jerusalem.

"In 1929 the PFA was actually accepted as a member of FIFA with the proposal being recommended by Egypt. They were accepted after the PFA rolled out competitions followed by clubs from all groups. The structure is the 10-team Main Division, the Second Division with 20 teams, and the Third Division with 39 teams, "said J. A. Mangan in Europe, Sport, World: Shaping Global Societies.

The inaugural international match of the Mandatory Palestine national team occurred during a counter-Egyptian friendly match in Cairo, March 16, 1934. They came with the British flag and the national anthem "God Save the King". In that game, Palestine was torn 1-7.

However, after the death of England in 1948 everything changed. The seeds of conflict arise. The PFA, which initially sheltered all multi-ethnic clubs and players, was vacuumed and then taken over by Israel. His name changed to Israel Football Association (IFA). The Palestinians could only build their football again with the formation of the Arab National Football League and the new PFA in 1962.

As many countries are new or want to be independent, Palestinians apply for membership to FIFA. However, many conditions thwarted the effort. One of the most important, about governance (political legitimacy). Until 1994, there was no government authority that actually stood in Palestine. This condition only changed after the establishment of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) which was born from the agreement of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) with Israel via the Oslo Accords in 1993.

A new milestone for the life of the Palestinian people goes into football. In 1998, Palestine was accepted as a member of FIFA and officially became a member of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) in 2001.

"The first competition followed by the Palestinian national team after entering FIFA was the 1999 Pan-Arab Games in Jordan. Under Argentine coach Ricardo Carugati, they performed well by finishing third, "wrote John Nauright and Charles Parrish in Sports Around the World: History, Culture and Practice Volume 2.

But because the territory of the country is separated, for the sake of coaching and developing football, the PFA must cover two leagues: the Gaza Strip League and the West Bank League. The development of football in Palestine cannot be as smooth as other countries. Especially since the Israeli blockade in Gaza had paralyzed football activities there. "It is generally the West Bank that later became the new center of Palestinian football," added Nauright and Parrish.

Almost all sports facilities were destroyed by the prolonged Palestinian-Israeli conflict. To practice or compete in various regional and international competitions, the Palestinian national team must evacuate to Jordan, sometimes even to Qatar.

The suffering made FIFA several times rolling out aid programs, starting "Goal", developing football, to aid in the reconstruction of stadiums in Palestine. One of them, Faisal al-Husseini Stadium in Ramallah. The destroyed stadium was rebuilt and inaugurated on 26 October 2008 by FIFA President Sepp Blatter.

Through the Memorandum of Understanding signed in September 2013, FIFA also formed the Israel-Palestine Special Team (Timsus) containing representatives of FIFA, IFA and PFA. "The fact that the Israelis and Palestinians agreed to participate in the thesis fund has become a sign of goodwill between the two in terms of peace," Blatter said on FIFA's website, September 3, 2013.

Although the reality of Palestine is still being smeared by Israel which has repeatedly caused blood floods, the Palestinian national team has begun to be able to show off its achievements. In 2014, Palestine won the AFC Challenge Cup. A year later, they qualified for the first time to the 2015 Asian Cup in Australia despite only ending in the group phase.

It is not wrong if Indonesian supporters at the Patriot Stadium respect them. Even though the war continued to afflict Palestine, they were able to move step by step but surely. "We admit, Palestine is indeed one level above us," said national team goalkeeper Andritany Ardhiyasa after the match against Palestine.