MPPM urges Sport Lisboa e Benfica to cease connection to Israeli football

MPPM – the Portuguese Movement for the Rights of the Palestinian People and for Peace in the Middle East - regrets that, while solidarity demonstrations with the oppressed Palestinian people take place all over the world of football, the Sport Lisboa e Benfica football club chooses to partner with the oppressor, Israel.

Benfica announced on its official website that it has just established a partnership with the Israeli Academy of Football Excellence (AFEX). This  liaison aims to organize Football Camps, in Tel Aviv, between the 25th and 29th of July of this year.

«Sport Lisboa e Benfica coaches will work together with Israeli coaches, ensuring the methodological monitoring of all activities and ensuring that all participants will have the possibility of enjoying the unique experience of being part of a project that is a world reference in the development of young football players», the club states.

But no connection to Israeli football can ignore the commitment of its structures to the policy of colonization, apartheid and ethnic cleansing practiced by the State of Israel on the Palestinian population of the occupied territories.

No connection to Israeli football can ignore the plight of Palestinian athletes, namely those who are part of the Palestinian national football team, systematically prevented by Israel from training and participating in competitions, both at home and abroad.

No connection to Israeli football can ignore the fact that the harassment by the Israeli army prevents the normal course of official competitions, recognized by FIFA, in the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967.

No connection to Israeli football can ignore that Israel attacks, arrests and murders Palestinian athletes, and destroys stadiums and sports infrastructure, some built with European contributions, including from Portugal.

Adidas, which is a major sponsor of Benfica football, was also a sponsor of the Israel Football Association (IFA). But in 2018, it ended its sponsorship following a campaign initiated by more than 130 Palestinian clubs and which had broad international support.

The campaign denounced the IFA's connection to Israel's occupation and colonization policy by including among its members six clubs based in settlements illegally built in occupied Palestinian territory.

Adidas had previously withdrawn its sponsorship of the Jerusalem Marathon because its route included crossing Jewish settlements and enclaves in occupied East Jerusalem.

Benfica, which, in its Statute and in relation to its members, prohibits differentiation «on the grounds of race, gender, sex, ancestry, language, nationality or territory of origin, economic and social condition and political, ideological and religious beliefs» has the right and duty to demand equal behavior from its partners.

MPPM urges Benfica to refrain from cooperating with the football structures of the State of Israel and to terminate the partnership with AFEX, canceling the announced Football Camps.

June 20, 2021

The MPPM National Directorate

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