Frank McCourt recalls some hallowed turf | Readings for 29 November 2006

Renowned Arab footballer Abbass Swan, established at Maccabi Haifa after flirtations with Beitar Jerusalem, reflects on his acceptance in Haifa and the ambition to become Beitar’s first Arab player. Beitar owner Arcadi Gaydamak approached Swan, writes James Montague, but Swan says, obliquely, that Gaydamak “got into trouble in Jerusalem. In the end, he apologised and said he couldn’t sign me.”

Swan recalls winning the national cup with Bnei Sakhnin in 2004:

I was so proud for the Arabs in Israel, proud that we were narrowing the gaps between communities through football. Now there are many symbols attached to me and many see me as an Arab symbol, nothing more. When the war [with Hizbollah] broke out, everybody asked me what I thought. The truth is, a drop of blood from a Jewish or Arab child is the same. The missiles don’t distinguish between Jews and Arabs. (Observer, 26 Nov 06)

Asian Games | Iran gets green light

FIFA has provisionally lifted a suspension on international football in Iran to cover the start of the Asian Games in Qatar. Iran football chief Dariush Mostafavi said FIFA’s requests, including the reinstating of previously sacked federation official Mohammed Dadkan, would be met by Dec 5. (aljazeera.net, 27 Nov 06)

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