A soccer team in Chile’s top league has ignited controversy over its uniforms, which show the entire map of Israel as Palestine.
The uniforms of the Palestine Football Club, which was founded in 1920 by Palestinian immigrants to Chile, has the map on the back of the jerseys replacing the numeral 1.
Local and global Jewish leaders have protested the political nature of the uniforms to FIFA, soccer’s international governing body.
“We know that FIFA prohibits such actions,” Gerardo Gorodischer, president of Chile’s Jewish community, told reporters. “You cannot make a political claim and import the Middle East conflict using the platform of football, using the sport to lie and hate.”
Gorodischer is demanding an apology from the Santiago-based team, whose name in Spanish is Club Deportivo Palestino, and is asking Chile’s national soccer association to ban the shirts.
The shirts debuted on Jan. 4 in the first match of the season against Everton, which the Palestine team won.
The Palestinian Federation of Chile responded to the Jewish protests with a statement saying: “We reject the hypocrisy of those who blame this map but they talk about the occupied territory as disputed territory."
The Information Department of the Palestinian Federation also criticized “the Chilenean Zionists, who send young Chileneans to Israel to receive military training.”
On Tuesday, in a letter to the president of the Chilean National Football Association, the Simon Wiesenthal Center called for the Palestine Football Club to pay a penalty “for fomenting terrorist intent.”
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.