10.05.2019 16:20 h

Palestinian football chief urges Atletico Madrid to cancel Jerusalem game

The head of the Palestinian Football Association has sent letters to the European and Spanish associations demanding Spanish football giants Atletico Madrid cancel a post-season friendly with an Israeli team in Jerusalem.

Jibril Rajoub has also sent a letter to Atletico calling on them to scrap the planned May 21 game with Beitar Jerusalem, a controversial Israeli team.

"We are not against playing in Israel, but not in occupied Jerusalem," the letter said, according to a post on the football association's Facebook page late Thursday.

He said there were many Atletico Madrid fans in the Palestinian territories who were shocked they would play against Beitar, who he labelled "high level racists."

Israel considers all of Jerusalem its undivided capital but the Palestinians consider the eastern part of the city as the capital of their future state.

The Teddy Stadium, where the game will be played, is in west Jerusalem.

The complaint was reminiscent of a similar one ahead of the 2018 World Cup, when Argentina were due to play Israel in Jerusalem as part of their warm-up for the tournament.

That game was eventually cancelled after pressure from pro-Palestinian campaigners, though Rajoub was sanctioned by FIFA for comments in which he called on fans to burn Argentinian star Lionel Messi's shirt.

Beitar Jerusalem have a controversial history in Israel, being the only side to have never signed an Arab Muslim player.

Beitar, whose fans have been known to chant "Death to Arabs" at matches, have of late been struggling to change their racist image.