Cui Bono? Arabs, football and state

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Abstract

Arab football clubs have been playing in the Israeli football league since the establishment of the State of Israel (1948) and have continued to do so to date, with a few clubs in the premier league. While Arab football clubs expanded to almost every Arab village and town, football became highly popular among the Israeli Arabs. However, because of the Arabs’ minority status in Israel and the ongoing conflict between the State of Israel and the Palestinians (also with certain Arab states) football assumed a definite instrumentality for the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel. This paper deals precisely with this issue: what did/does football do for the Arabs in Israel? Who gained/gains from the existence and the participation of Arab clubs in the Israeli football league? Certain gains can definitively be discerned and divided into three levels: the individual player that benefited from socio-economic mobility, the local club that became a hub of ethnic-national identification for many residents, and the entire Arab community in Israel whose internal debate about self-identification was encouraged by football and was instrumental both for integration and protest regarding the State of Israel, which has been dominated by the Jewish majority.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)496-511
Number of pages16
JournalSoccer and Society
Volume17
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 3 Jul 2016

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