Tony Seed (July 3) – Algeria striker Islam Slimani said that the team will donate their World Cup prize money to the people in Gaza because “they need it more than us.” It will be a solid contribution, around $9 million. Surely a gesture for respect.
Previously the team had dedicated their victory in the opening round to Palestine. They followed that up by playing an inspired game that scared top-ranked Germany, which was fortunate to win in extra-time.
The astounding act of kindness was revealed by journalist Waleed Abu Nada earlier today.
The national team was greeted by tens of thousands of Algerians on their return from Brazil. Watch this amazing video of the progress of their bus as it inches through the streets of Algiers. They are flying the Palestinian flag on the front of their bus. An explosion of joy, pride and solidarity you will not find reported – nor understood – in the sports media. Even after the homecoming the Algerian national football team still inspires many people, and they are great example to follow.
After their historic success at the World Cup in Brazil, Prof. As’ad AbuKhalil commented on his blog, Angry Arab News Service, that “For those of you who know Arabic, you will understand: anyone who has watched Arab reactions in the traditional and social media to the world cup and the wild enthusiasm for the Algerian team know that nothing explained that except the persistence of Arab nationalist sentiments and feelings and across different generations. All eulogies of Arab nationalism were premature.”
Speaking of donation, the Greek national team decided to donate their cut for the youth football camp in Greece.
Both these selfless acts speak to the best values and ideals of sport.
The Palestinian cause has animated many professional footballers, who have courageously taken stands on the basis of fidelity to principle.
In November, 2012 dozens of leading footballers signed a statement protesting UEFA’s decision to stage the European under-21 championship in Israel next year following its military offensive against Gaza. Sixty-two players, including Chelsea’s Eden Hazard, Arsenal’s Abou Diaby, Paris Saint-Germain’s Jeremy Menez and Didier Drogba (then playing in China), declared that Israel hosting the tournament will be “seen as a reward for actions that are contrary to sporting values.”
“We, as European football players, express our solidarity with the people of Gaza who are living under siege and denied basic human dignity and freedom,” the players said in the statement, which was also published on the website of former Tottenham and Sevilla striker Frédéric Kanouté, selected African Footballer of the Year in 2007.
In June 2012, two dozen top European athletes, issued a call declaring that “IN THE NAME of sporting solidarity, justice and human rights, we declare our support for Palestinian footballer Mahmoud Sarsak. As European sportsmen, we believe that every person has the right to a fair and independent trial.” Sarsak, 25, had began his heroic hunger strike in March 2012 against his prolonged detention without charge or trial by Israel.
After scoring a goal in a January 2009 Copa Del Rey match against Deportivo La Coruña, Frédéric Kanouté lifted his jersey and displayed a black shirt underneath emblazoned with the word “Palestine.” The action was interpreted by BBC sources as a protest against the Israeli Army operation in the Gaza Strip ongoing at that time. Kanouté was cautioned with a yellow card for displaying a political message, and subsequently fined around US $4,000 by the Spanish Football Federation.
Kanouté, who was born in France, could have played for the French national team in the World Cup but instead chose to play for Mali, his parent’s homeland, to show African solidarity.
Thirteen of the Algerian national team members were born in France.