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FUTBOL PALESTINA 2006, a documentary project, will chronicle the experiences of a soccer team and the unique challenge of representing a nation under occupation: Palestine. The teams stated purpose? To claim a spot in the most important sporting event on the planet, soccer's World Cup. The chances? Tough, but no longer impossible.

Despite the athletic odds, this process is likely to have special meaning to a people without a state, under military occupation and living in extreme conditions. The real triumph, Palestinian athletes say, comes every time their flag flies in international competitions. Through these players, soccer is giving Palestine a taste of its highest aspiration, what most of the rest of the world so far denies it: the right to represent itself as a nation.

Our project's crew was with the team in Chile last year and it is currently with it in Egypt, preparing for the qualifying games against Uzbekistan, Taiwan and Iraq. Due to the conflict, Team Palestine will have to play its home games in Qatar. Players from the distant Palestinian diaspora have joined those from the territories and the Middle East, adding experience to the team and depth to the story. We see great value in these players' experiences and their contribution to a just solution for their country; the bridge offered by soccer makes for a dramatic story, a huge audience and more: an opportunity to build deeper, cultural roads to understanding and peace.
FUTBOL PALESTINA 2006 will provide a closer look at a decadesold conflict triggered by the creation of Israel in 1948 following British occupation, and its later expansion in 1967. After more than 50 years, the situation there remains one of the most important political conflicts of our time, true ground zero in a region the developed world depends on for resources.

Exploring the Middle East becomes more urgent today, after decades of Western-sponsored covert action and war, climaxing recently with the occupation of Iraq. The situation of Palestinians, without a vote in Israel and nothing real to vote for in Palestine, rallies the Arab worldand beyond, standing as a monument to political hypocrisy and mocking the democratic and humanitarian principles for which the West claims to fight.

Even though the situation of Palestine is not a new subject, its treatment in our documentary will be. While most productions about Palestine tend to focus on the most brutal aspects of the conflict, preaching mostly to the converted, FÚTBOL PALESTINA 2006 will be told in a global language millions can understand: the game of soccer. Through a global game, a potential audience of millions will experience Palestine anew, its people and their needs…

The progress of organized soccer, or football, in Palestine has always been tied to the political winds of the time. The game's debut there dates back to 1908 in Jerusalem. In 1934, Palestine participated in World Cup qualifiers for the first time with a team that included Arab as well Jewish and Christian players. Soccer grew under British occupation, but came to a halt with the creation of Israel in 1948. Soccer then staggered forward, but stopped again along most other activities with the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank in 1967. After the Oslo Accords and the creation of the Palestinian Authority in 1994, the Palestinian soccer federation went back to FIFA, and in 1998 local and international tournaments were played regularly again. Today, soccer continues to move at the pace of politics, occupation and Intifada marking the beat. Organized soccer has not been played in Palestine since the beginning of the latest uprising three years ago


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