Surabaya (ANTARA) - Indonesia and Palestine enjoy a special relationship, with both countries showering mutual support and love over the course of their history.

September 6, 1944, marked a monumental moment for the two countries. On that day, Palestine expressed its recognition of Indonesia's de facto independence. The recognition came one year before Indonesia proclaimed its independence.

Syekh Muhammad Amin al-Husaini, a renowned Palestinian Mufti, then spread the recognition to the whole world for two days.

Not only that, the State of Palestine also proceeded to invite Middle Eastern sovereign countries that are members of the Arab League to support Indonesia's independence.

In fact, the Palestinian efforts to support Indonesia were made in the midst of a difficult situation in the Arabian country, when the Zionists were trying to conquer Al Quds city.

The efforts were not in vain, with the First President of Indonesia, Soekarno, proclaiming the nation’s independence in Jakarta on August 17, 1945.

Football unites

The roar of fans is always expected by all football players. The same went for those who played in the friendly match between the national teams of Indonesia and Palestine, which was held at Gelora Bung Tomo Stadium in Surabaya on Wednesday (June 14, 2023).

No one can doubt Indonesians' love for football, especially when it comes to their national team playing against their brothers from a far land, but close to their hearts, Palestine.

In fact, all 40 thousand tickets for FIFA Match Day were sold out.

A host of Indonesian fans brought accessories and attributes linked to Palestine, such as scarves, T-shirts, and even the Palestinian flag.

One family from Surabaya even placed a special order for football jerseys displaying a combination of the colors of both countries. Half of the jerseys bore Indonesia's red, while the other half was in Palestinian colors.

Written across the jerseys were the words, "INDONESIA VS PALESTINA FIFA MATCHDAY 14 JUNI 2023."

The family expressed pride in wearing the jerseys since it turned out that no other fans were wearing the same kind of jersey at the stadium.

Habib, a football fan from Pasuruan, took a 1.5-hour-long trip from his hometown to Surabaya to watch the historic match, which was included in the official FIFA calendar.

Wearing an Arabic robe and a scarf with the wording "Save Palestine Save Al-Quds" written on it, he proudly walked into the stadium named after Bung Tomo, a national hero from Surabaya.

However, Habib said that he was rooting for Indonesia to win the match. Just before the match started, he predicted that Indonesia would prevail with a score of 3-1.

The fans at the stadium showed support for Indonesia, while still making it clear that they held the Palestinian team, nicknamed "The Lions of Canaan," in high respect.

For the fans, the match offered a rare opportunity to watch, first-hand, their national team competing against the Palestinian "soldiers," who brought football and peace messages, rather than weapons, in keeping with the brotherhood between the two nations.

During the half-time break, an official staff from the Palestinian team was spotted running on the side of the pitch, holding his national flag.

Fans also displayed banners with messages supporting Palestinian independence. There was even a banner with a picture of a handshake and the flags of the two countries on the left and right sides.

The supporters showed their unity by making a choreography that formed the word "LOVE" when seen from a distance.

In addition, they brought small handwritten posters with friendly words, such as "We are brother forever," "Assalamualaikum Palestine, wipe your tears, you are not alone, God among us," and also dedicated writings to the Indonesian team's head coach, Shin Tae Yong.

One fan even painted his body in the colors of the Palestinian flag.

Moved by the Indonesian fans' support, Baraa Kharoub, Palestinian goalkeeper with jersey number 16, came to a tribune in the east of the stadium to join Indonesian fans in singing chants.

The Indonesian supporters' chants were not addressed only to their team, but also to Palestinian players.

Despite the match ending in a 0-0 draw, everyone seemed happy and kept shouting the names of both countries.

After the match, players and officials from both teams stood in a circle in the middle of the pitch, before singing the song Tanah Airku with supporters. At that moment, Palestinian player Mohammed Rashid could be seen wearing the Indonesian team's jersey.

Overall, the match ran smoothly. In fact, the Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) and the local government decided to dedicate as much as 10 percent of the ticket revenue to support the Palestinians' struggle for independence.

The decision was meant to further solidify the friendship between the two countries. It should be noted that Indonesia is guided by the 1945 Constitution that affirms that all nations have the same right to gain independence.

Hilmi, a fan from Jember, said that he would not even mind if the ticket price was increased to Rp150 thousand (US$10), as long as a portion of the revenue from ticket sales was dedicated to supporting Palestine’s struggle.

The view and the atmosphere at the stadium could only be described as replete with amazement, joy, and emotion. Everyone seemed happy to have gotten the opportunity to meet each other, to meet as brothers.

Football for brotherhood.

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Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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