ROME (Jan. 16)
The “national soccer team” of the Palestine Liberation Organization has started to play a series of matches in Italy.
They are the first games the Palestinians have played in a non-Arab state, and Israel has already protested.
“Every country that establishes sports relations with the PLO should remember the first sports event the PLO took part in — Munich in 1972,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Alon Liel said in Jerusalem on Friday.
He was referring to the massacre of the Israeli athletes at the Olympic games in Munich, West Germany, in September 1972 by Palestinian terrorists.
Liel complained that the PLO soccer tour was another Italian gesture in support of the independent Palestinian state proclaimed by Yasir Arafat in Algiers two months ago.
The PLO team seems to be trying to stake a claim to participate in the 1992 Olympics, which are to be held in Barcelona, Spain.
The Italian tour will have “clear political significance,” said Ammar Nasnas, the cultural affairs officer at the PLO office in Rome, at a news conference Friday.
“It is part of a widespread campaign to let people know that we are not just a people composed of guerrillas,” the PLO spokesman said.
The PLO team is composed of amateurs who have played for teams in Kuwait, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Syria. They are being matched against amateur teams in Italy, but may play at least one game against an Italian professional team.