BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (JTA) — Chile’s Palestino soccer club unveiled new uniforms retaining a controversial map encompassing all of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.
The uniforms, worn Sunday in a match against Universidad de Concepcion, replaced old jerseys in which the map represented the No. 1 on the numbers in the backs.
The new uniforms have the map on the front and in a smaller size on the back of the jersey.
Chile’s top soccer league, the National Association of Professional Football of Chile, or ANFP, on Jan. 20 fined the team for the old uniforms. The ANFP ruled that the team, which wore the original jerseys in three games this month, must redesign the uniforms to include only numerals for player numbers.
In punishing the Palestino team, the ANFP said it was opposed to “any form of political, religious, sexual, ethnic, social or racial discrimination.” The decision followed a complaint by Patrick Kiblisky Fried, the Jewish president of Chile’s Deportivo Nublense SDAP club, which plays in the same league.
“The fact that the Palestinian soccer club chose to keep the map of Israel on their shirt, claiming all of it as Palestinian territory, provides further proof that the ideology of the leaders of the Palestinian community of Chile is very extremist, and it is based on the denial of all connection of the Jewish people with the land of Israel,” Maximiliano Grass, director of the Chile-Israel Council, the Zionist Federation of Chile, told JTA.
“As a matter of fact, even when they cannot use the previous shirt anymore, they’ve taken advantage of media coverage to sell more than 7,000 of them around the globe. With this kind of attitude, it is very unlikely that we are able to reestablish constructive dialogue with the local Palestinian community any time soon.”
The club was founded in 1920 by Palestinian immigrants to Chile. The Palestinian community in Chile is believed to be the largest outside of the Middle East. At least 300,000 Chileans are of Palestinian descent, according to reports.