One can’t move anywhere in the new Middle East without tripping over a Qatari cash pile. Besides being the last Arabs in the world to still be supporting the Hamas terrorist regime in Gaza, the Emirate of Qatar, on the northeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, has just pledged about $2.25 million each to the two Arab soccer clubs in Israel’s Premier League, Bnei Sakhnin and Maccabi Ahi Nazareth FC, Globes reported.
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Sadly, the Bnei Sakhnin team used to be a shining symbol of Jewish-Arab coexistence, being an Arab soccer club with Jewish players on the team. But then the club kind of ran out of its Jews. On the eve of the new season, their last Jewish player, Eliran Danin, flew the coop.
Mind you, the dream of peaceful co-existence lives on, since most Jewish clubs have Arab players on their rosters.
So now Qatar will donate $2.25 million to Bnei Sakhnin, probably exposing them to a lot of criticism, if not worse, since Qatar is so identified as a supporter of Hamas and many anti-Israel Muslim groups.
Sakhnin Mayor Mazin Gnayem, formerly the chairman of the Bnei Sakhnin club, told Globes, “The team’s bank account has already been credited with $500, 000, which is only part of the sum promised to us during a visit to Qatar.”
Gnayem added, “Even before the war broke out I went together with a member of the team’s management for a meeting in the Qatar palace of Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani (the Emir of Qatar) in which he promised $2.25 million for Bnei Sakhnin and $2.25 million for Maccabi Ahi Nazareth FC. The amount transferred now is just an advance.”
Gnayem said that $2.25 million was a sum beyond his team’s wildest dreams.
According to Gnayem, his connection with the Qatar royal family began in 2005, when Qatar donated $6 million towards the construction of Doha Stadium in Sakhnin, mediated by MK Ahmed Tibi. The money was transferred to a bank in Ramallah, capital city of the Palestinian Authority.
The $2.25 million from Qatar will comprise more than half of Bnei Sakhnin’s planned budget for the season.
The other beneficiary of Qatari generosity, Maccabi Ahi Nazareth FC, is mentioned in official repots about the donation without the Maccabi part. This club is much more representative of a robust cooperation between Arab and Jewish soccer players, with an equal mix of both in the team roster.
The club was formed in 1967, and over the decades experienced many ups and downs, managing to get a stint in the premier league, and then losing their rating and dropping to the secondary league.
Incidentally, had the Qatari emirate truly been looking for a premier league team in Israel that deserved to be supported for its equally Jewish and Arab players, they should have picked Hapoel Acco (Acre), with Handi Mohammad, Ali Ahmad, Ibrahim Omar and Aga Namir enjoying as permanent spot on the team roster.