London Football Club to Host Palestine Solidarity Fundraiser

London Football Club to Host Palestine Solidarity Fundraiser

A pro-Palestinian protest in central London on 28 October. (File photo: Sky News)

A London-based football club is set to host a football tournament fundraiser on Sunday to raise funds for a professional para-cycling team in Gaza.

Fan-owned and run Clapton Community Football Club (CCFC) is teaming up with Football for Palestine (FFP) to organise a series of football matches and cultural activities aimed at supporting Gaza Sunbirds para-cycling team, who have had to pause their sports activities amid the ongoing Israeli attacks and are now focusing on distributing aid in Gaza.

The tournament, the Mohammed Barakat Cup, is named after a Palestinian footballer who was killed in an Israeli bombing on 11 March 2024 and will take place at the CCFC-owned Old Spotted Dog Ground at 11am. There will be a stall at the tournament where attendees can learn more about FFP’s campaigns to force football to cut ties with the Israeli occupation.

Organisers of the event underlined how international football organisations, like FIFA, have significant political influence, a fact made evident by FIFA’s prompt ban on Russia from international events. They criticised FIFA and UEFA for allowing Israel to participate in their tournaments in spite of its actions in Gaza and ongoing occupation of the West Bank.

Speaking to MEMO, FFP organiser Marral Shamshiri said: “We are disturbed and outraged that international football remains silent despite the Palestinian FA’s repeated calls on sporting bodies such as FIFA to act on Israel’s clear violations of FIFA’s own statutory commitments to human rights.”

Shamshiri explained that apartheid in South Africa was not dismantled by the decisions of leaders or politicians, but rather by the united strength of ordinary people that compelled them to act. Building and popularising the economic, cultural and sports boycotts of the anti-apartheid movement took years, but these collective efforts eventually pressured corporations, institutions and governments to divest from and impose sanctions on apartheid South Africa.

“It is horrific beyond belief. Despite this, and what we cannot and should not lose sight of, is the fact that the solidarity movement with Palestine has never been so powerful and mobilised, on so many fronts, and it will be a long and difficult struggle still until Palestinians achieve liberation.”

CCFC was founded in 2021 following a growing trend of British institutions suppressing supporters of Palestine. One of CCFC’s founder members and longtime Palestine solidarity activist, Medb, said: “There was clearly an urgency to formalise our principles of anti-fascism and global solidarity against oppression. No one wants to put procedure into solidarity, but with state repression on the rise, we felt it was necessary to utilise the tools laid out by the Boycott, Divest, and Sanction (BDS) network and The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI).”

The club became the first British sports team to receive Apartheid Free Zone accreditation, revealed Medb.

A CCFC volunteer, Angus, who asked to be identified only by their first name due to privacy concerns also spoke to MEMO about the uniting power of football. “Football can be a massive force for bringing people together,” said Angus, a CCFC volunteer . “One aim of the event is to simply come together and express our solidarity with Palestine.”

Sunday’s fundraiser will see matches played, film screenings, art workshops, food, stalls and even haircuts from Open Barbers. The event will feature screenings of documentaries, including “Why Celtic Football Club Supports Palestinians” and “Football In Palestine: Fixing What Politics Has Destroyed”.

Attendees will also have the opportunity to enjoy performances by artists such as London-based rapper, Oracy, Egyptian London-based DJ, Nihal, and Old Spotted Dog Ground’s resident DJs, Old Dogs Disco. Additionally, participants will be able to savour dishes from Café Palestina, which not only provides a taste of Palestinian cuisine but also supports Palestinian economic activities.

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