Målet är fred – Abbas Suan

Jag är i princip helt ointresserad av fotboll, men när  Bnei Sakhnin vann Israelcupen år 2004 så var det även för mig ett oförglömligt ögonblick. Ett judiskt-arabiskt fotbollslag från den dammiga staden Sakhnin i Galileen, ungefär en timme från där jag bor, som inte ens hade en vettig fotbollsplan att träna på tog hem pokalen. Och när Abbas Suan 2005 gjorde ett avgörande mål mot Irland inför World Cup för det israeliska landslaget, då blev han den första arabisk-israeliska nationalhjälten i historien. Grant Wahl från Sports Illustrated nominerade Suan till Sportsman of the Year. Så här skrev han om matchen:

”If I ever get too cynical about modern-day sports, I’ll pull out a cassette tape, hook up my headphones and listen to the most inspiring highlight broadcast anywhere on the planet in 2005. I don’t understand the language of the commentators, but that hardly matters, because sometimes emotions and events have the power to transcend the most imposing of barriers. Sometimes, even, sports do too. When I push play, the Hebrew-speaking voices transport me to Ramat-Gan Stadium near Tel Aviv on March 26. Israel is trailing Ireland 1-0 in the 90th minute of a World Cup qualifier, and the home team is in danger of losing its longshot bid to reach the world’s biggest sporting event. On their final desperate push forward, the Israelis pass the ball until it lands on the right foot of midfielder Abbas Suan, a devout Muslim, an Israeli-Arab who has heard racist taunts his entire career.

”To my ears, the broadcast goes something like this, the decibels rising steadily to a roar: ”Suan . . . ABBAS SUAN!!!!! … ABBAS SUAN!!!!! … ABBAS SUAN!!!!” And suddenly I close my eyes and the images of Suan’s miraculous goal wash over me again: his teammates, all but one of them Jews, piling on their Muslim brother in ecstasy; the sold-out crowd going bonkers, filling the air with blue and white crepe paper. . .”

Suan har aldrig stuckit under stol med sina åsikter. I en ny intervju i Haaretz berättar han att han ville spela för Beitar (vars fans räknas till den israeliska fotbollens värsta huliganer och som gärna sjunger ”Död åt araberna” på Beitars matcher), men att det inte blev av på grund av att Beitars ägare fick kalla fötter.

Ur intervjun:

”Suan agreed that being a symbol means taking a lot of racist abuse.

”It’s true, unfortunately,” he said. ”There’s anti-Semitism against Israel in this world. Racism led to the Holocaust, but instead of people learning from that, they continue to hate. And Beitar’s leaders have a lot to learn from [Maccabi Haifa owner] Yaakov Shahar. He’s the bravest and most brilliant figure in Israeli soccer. I’m sure if he were Beitar’s owner, there would be at least one Arab player on the team.”

Did you ever feel discriminated against during your career?

”I never felt discriminated against in anything that had to do with soccer. I didn’t let anyone do it to me. Everywhere I went, I felt not merely at home, but like the boss. I have a lot of Jewish friends and they are like brothers to me. But I do feel discriminated against when it comes to infrastructure and development in the Arab sector. When my children have a sports lesson in a courtyard without a pitch, that’s discrimination. It makes my blood boil. It’s unacceptable that in a city like Sakhnin, there is not one tennis or basketball court worthy of the name.”

Läs också Sarah Wildmans utmärkta artiklar The Goal is Peace ur Reader’s Digest (4/2006) och Soccer, Racism and Israel’s Unlikely World Cup Hero: Abbas Suan, Arab Muslim

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