Mon, May 03, 2010
Sports > Soccer

Gaza World Cup kicks off

2010-05-03 05:48:56 GMT2010-05-03 13:48:56 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

Players of "Palestine" and "a foreign team" compete during the opening football match on the first day of Gaza's version of the World Cup, in Gaza City, on May 2, 2010. The Gaza Strip kicked off its own version of the World Cup with teams of Palestinian footballers and foreigners representing foreign countries on Sunday. The trophy is made out of twisted metal and rubble from last year's war with Israel. (Xinhua/Wissam Nassar)

Players line up before a football match on the first day of Gaza's version of the World Cup, in Gaza City, on May 2, 2010. The Gaza Strip kicked off its own version of the World Cup with teams of Palestinian football players and foreigners representing foreign countries on Sunday. The trophy is made out of twisted metal and rubble from last year's war with Israel. (Xinhua/Wissam Nassar)

Players of "Palestine" and "a foreign team" compete during the opening football match on the first day of Gaza's version of the World Cup, in Gaza City, on May 2, 2010. The Gaza Strip kicked off its own version of the World Cup with teams of Palestinian footballers and foreigners representing foreign countries on Sunday. The trophy is made out of twisted metal and rubble from last year's war with Israel. (Xinhua/Wissam Nassar)

GAZA, May 2 (Xinhua) -- A symbolic local version of the South Africa World Cup kicked off in the Gaza Strip Sunday where 16 Palestinian soccer clubs are competing for the "Gaza World Cup".

The championship are intended to highlight the situation in Gaza under a three-year-old Israeli blockade and 15 months after the end of Israel's three-week military operation in the coastal enclave, the organizers say.

Every team holds the name of a country that is participating in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa in addition to Egypt, Jordan and Palestine teams, all playing to win the cup which is made out of iron taken from the debris of the houses that were destroyed during the offensive.

"Italy team beat" Palestine team, 1-0 at the opening match at Palestine stadium in Gaza city.

The opening ceremonies included Palestinian heritage dances as flags of the "participating states," rose round the stadium.

"From this tournament, we wanted to tell the world that Gazans are playing their favorite game despite the siege and suffering," said Ibraheem Abu Saleem, deputy director of the Palestinian Football Federation.

Bassel Nassar, a representative of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) which sponsors the event, said that the contest "has broken the siege on the Palestinian people in Gaza who could not travel to South Africa."

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