SANTIAGO – On Saturday the 17th November 2018, in the Estadio Municipal de la Cisterna in Santiago, Club Deportivo Palestino beat Audax Italiano 3-2 to win the Copa Chile (4-2 on aggregate) for the third time in the club’s history. The victory marked the clubs first major trophy since 1978, when the team won the Chilean Primera Division. It also means that C. D. Palestino automatically qualify for the Copa Libertadores next season which will see them compete against other top teams in South America including Palmeiras, Boca Juniors, River Plate and Gremio.
The Copa Chile victory marks an important step in the history of this important football team which has been a part of the Santiago community since the early 19th century.
Such was the importance of the victory that Mahmoud Abbas (President of the State of Palestine) sent a personal letter to the sporting club congratulating the team on their victory and inviting the players and coaching staff to Palestine to support the country’s sporting endeavours.
As President Abbas points out, C.D. Palestino are more than just a football team, they represent both the nation of Palestine and the “just cause for freedom, justice and peace“.
C.D. Palestino: a long history
C.D. Palestino has a long history in Santiago and was first established in 1916 by Chileans of Palestinian descent, Palestinian migrants and Chileans. Many people arrived from Palestine to Chile in the mid-late 18th Century during the Crimean war, later migrations occurred because of WW1 and later due to the 1948 Palestine war (The Nakba) which saw the dramatic reduction in size of the state of Palestine due to the creation of Israel on land previously used by Palestinians.
Now, Chile is home to the largest population of Palestinians outside of the Arab world. In the initial formation of C.D. Palestino the club offered a diverse range of sports but for many years tennis was the most popular. This was partly because tennis was a non-contact sport and many playing football at this time faced racially motivated confrontations which marred the game.
C.D. Palestino officially became a professional football club in 1952 and entered into the Chilean Second Division, which they won the same year and were promoted to the Primera Division. Three years later they won their first Primera Division title in 1955 and again in 1978. Now the sporting club, which is based in Santiago’s Vitacura suburb, has a women’s football team and several youth football programs based in Ñuñoa neighborhood.
The victory has brought joy to both supporters in Chile and in Palestine, but the priority of the club is clear: to raise awareness of the plight of Palestinians in the occupied territories and to continue to seek freedom, justice and peace.
In contradiction to the jubilant scenes in Santiago on Saturday, on the same day two Palestinian teenagers were killed in Palestine in heavy bombing raids by Israel. The football club of C.D. Palestino represents a glimmer of hope for the future generation of Palestine, a chance to fly the flag on happier terms and for the future to know their flag is being flown and respected.
John is a volcanologist, sports fan, radio broadcaster, and accomplished musician. Born and raised in Britain, he has travelled extensively for his research on volcanoes. Whilst living in London, UK, John performed in the punk bands ‘And Now We’re Even’ and ‘Filthy Militia’ recording six studio albums and two EP’S over this time. He currently lives in Santiago, Chile where he works as a university professor in rock mechanics.