Johannesburg – The Pro-Palestine BDS Coalition organisation has urged South African soccer team Orlando Pirates not to play a friendly match with Israeli team Maccabi Tel Aviv, scheduled to be played on July 13 in Spain.
The Buccaneers say they are conscious of the plight of the Palestinian people.
The BDS Coalition had called on the Orlando Pirates to heed the call of Palestinian sportspeople and all Palestinians not to play against the Israeli team.
“Just as we mobilised the world for a sports boycott of apartheid South Africa, we must now refuse to play with Israeli apartheid. We call on the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture to implement policy for a cultural and sporting boycott," said the organisation.
In a statement, Orlando Pirates said the solutions they seek need to be inclusive and arrived at through putting heads together rather than apart.
“It would be easier to respond by merely stating the facts, but that would be contrary to Orlando Pirates’ values and rich history. The facts are: Orlando Pirates is participating in a pre-season camp organised by a Fifa match agent involving numerous clubs from Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. The Orlando Pirates have no hand in organising the event," said the club statement.
The club said that they had no liaisons with any participating club or the organisers relating to fixtures. The fixtures were arrived at independently by the organisers.
“It is an important fact that all the participating clubs are Fifa affiliates regulated by Fifa statutes,” read the statement.
Orlando Pirates said that it was a socially conscious club that fully understands that it exists for the community and society. The club also said they have a record that includes being banned from using government infrastructure because they formed themselves into a non-racial club against the dictates of the apartheid government.
“Orlando Pirates’ core functioning is governed by rules. It is to the rules that the Orlando Pirates went when confronted with calls to withdraw from playing Maccabi Tel Aviv. There is no cultural boycott or boycott of any form by either the South African government, Fifa, or the host country on which Orlando Pirates can base their refusal to play against Maccabi Tel Aviv,” added the statement.
The club further said that heeding a call from any other body would create a conflict within the Orlando Pirates that would undermine the club’s values and history irreparably.