By Mark Baber
December 11 – Turkish footballers and fans protested US President Trump’s controversial recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, unfurling pro-Palestine banners at domestic football matches.
According to Turkish media, protests followed the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) requesting all clubs playing in the Super League, 1st League, 2nd League and 3rd League to open Jerusalem banners while coming out on to the field for their matches this week.
Before the Galatasaray versus Teleset, Mobilya Akhisarspor, Adanaspor v Elazigspor and Gazisehir Gaziantep v MKE Ankaragucu matches the teams held banners reading ‘Jerusalem is our red line’.
The Galatasaray fans also unfurled banners reading ‘If Jerusalem is not free, the world remains captive’ and ‘Jerusalem is Qiblah, Jerusalem is Miraj’, referring to the Muslim’s first direction of prayers.
The protests follow the US President Donald Trump’s announcement of the U.S.’s official recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and decision the US Embassy will relocate from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem which have condemned by all UN Security Council members other the US and which are widely seen as detrimental to the Middle East peace process.
Demonstrations against Trump’s decision have been held around the world and protests will inevitably spill over into football. The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation is meeting on Wednesday and is likely to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, with the Muslim world officially united on the issue. Symbolic protests in solidarity with an increasingly lost Palestinian cause will likely be seen by many Arab regimes close to the US as preferable to any concrete action.
It remains to be seen if similar protests will be made during UEFA or FIFA regulated matches, which would create an unwelcome situation for either body, both of whom are already facing allegations of pro-Israel bias.
A decision is currently awaited from CAS on the Palestinian Football Federation’s complaint that FIFA has violated its own statutes in allowing teams from Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land to play in the Israeli league.
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