The popularity of a Chilean football team has jumped up after it decided to replace number “1” on club’s recently unveiled 2014 kit to take the shape of Palestine complete map before 1948 nakba.
“Club Deportivo Palestino.. now officially my favorite team from South America,” Joe.m wrote on Twitter.
“My new fave football club is Deprotico [Deportivo] Palestino,” Isaac K. Oommen added on Twitter.
Earlier this month, Palestine Football Club, Deportivo Palestine, based in Santiago, Chile redesigned their jerseys replacing the number 1 with an image of Palestine map.
The team was originally founded in 1920 by Palestinian immigrants to the country, and Chile now has one of the largest Palestinian communities in the world.
The club’s colors are those of the Palestinian flag: black, white, green and red. They have won national championships twice, in 1955 and 1978.
Uproar surrounding this decision started when local and global Jewish leaders protested the political nature of the uniforms to FIFA, soccer’s international governing body.
“This act of smugness by the irresponsible mangers of Palestino is offensive to the whole Chilean Jewish community. It’s unprecedented,” tweeted Gabriel Zaliasnik, the former president of Chilean Jewish community (CJC), International Business Times reported.
His successor at the head of CJC, Gerardo Gorodischer, has urged Chile’s football association to ban the shirt.
“We reject the import of the Middle East conflict in Chile,” Gorodischer tweeted.
The Palestinian Federation of Chile responded to the Jewish protests.
“We reject the hypocrisy of those who blame this map but they talk about the occupied territory as disputed territory,” the Palestinian Federation said in a statement.
The Information Department of the Palestinian Federation also criticized “the Chilenean Zionists, who send young Chileneans to Israel to receive military training.”
Each year on May 15, Palestinians mourn the loss of Palestine and creation of Israel on its rubble in 1948. Later in 1967, Israel occupied the remaining Palestinian lands along with Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and Syria’s Golan Heights.
In November 2012, the UN gave Palestine the status of “non-member observer state”.
Chile is home to one of the largest Palestinian communities in the world, with about 350,000 immigrants and their descendants.
The Chilean government has officially recognized an independent state of Palestine in 2011.