Sandro Rosell, with Mahmud Abbas / FOTO: DANIEL BAR ON-FCB

The official Club delegation, headed by President Sandro Rosell and vice-president Javier Faus, crossed the frontier from Israel into the West Bank and travelled to Ramallah to meet the Palestine National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the governmental centre, Mukataa. The crossing of the frontier marked a symbolic bridging of peace which the Club is attempting to promote through its proposal of a match on July 31st in Tel Aviv . This is in fact the first time a foreign visitor has been received by the Presidents of both Israel and Palestine on the same trip.

The meeting between Presidents Rosell and Mahmoud Abbas, which was also attended by Sr Faus and the president of the Palestinian Football Federation and Palestinian Olympic Committee, General Jibril Rajoub, centered on details of the proposed match, which has been enthusiastically received by the Palestinian authorities, although a number of obstacles remain to be overcome. The three parts involved still have to negotiate a number of tricky issues, including the demand of the Palestinian authorities for the Israelis to allow their team free movement between Gaza and the West Bank and that the Israeli State officially recognises the Palestinian Federation, which is already a FIFA member.

Accompanied by General Rajoub and speaking to the media afterwards, President Rosell admitted: “holding the game won’t be easy, but if we don’t try, we’ll never achieve it. Our offer is to come here and help create a better understanding between the two communities. That would be an achievement not just for peace, but for football too”.

For his part, General Jibril Rajoub explained: “I’m optimistic that the game can be organised, but the three parts have to sit down and talk about it now to reach agreement. There are still obstacles to overcome to convert this dream into reality”.

Once the press conference had finished, the FCB delegation had lunch with General Rajoub and other representatives of Palestinian football and the trip concluded with a visit to the tomb of the Nobel Peace Prize winner and former Palestine National Authority President, Yasser Arafat.

On their return to Jerusalem, the delegation visited the Via Dolorosa and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, two important Christian monuments in the city, where they were greeted by the Patriarch of the Orthodox Church. They then visited Isaac Herzog, the Israeli minister for relations with the Christian community.

Support for Barça in Ramallah

The trip to Ramallah was marked by a series of shows of support for the Club by Palestinian fans. The delegation was greeted by a crowd of fans when they entered the Mukataa and President Rosell stepped out from his security protection to speak to a number of the supporters. In the press conference after his meeting with President Abbas, Rosell thanked the fans for all their support and revealed that the Palestinian President had told him that his own grandchildren were Barça fans.

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