This narrative is the product of the historical research developed as part of the project video-documentary about Club Deportivo Dalestino called ‘4 Colores’.
The team’s history begins in Santiago de Chile on March 25, 1916, when a group of immigrants from Palestine, together with Chileans of Palestinian origin and a few Chileans, founded what would be the ‘Club Sportivo Palestina’ at the time. In order to support this discovery there are detailed statutes stored on the National Library of Chile.
In this sport club it was practiced diverse sports, and not only the football in particular.
Its possible to see more details about this topic in Article N°1: Club Deportivo Palestino’s first statutes
2. Creation of the football branch
The creation of the football branch proper occurs on August 20, 1920. Other sources indicate that it was on August 8 of the same year.
Page 6 of number 411 of the magazine ‘Los Sports’ begins with this paragraph:
“On August 8, 1920, a small but enthusiastic group of people from the Palestinian community met and laid the foundations for a new sports institution called Palestina Football Club.
This publication dates from January 23, 1931, where the club was best known for its tennis branch. It explains how the football branch was founded and who its directors were.
Its possible to see more details about this topic in Article N°2: Club Deportivo Palestino’s early years
3. First line up of Club Deportivo Palestino in 1920
This was the so-called ‘Honor Team’, the first team of the Club Deportivo Palestino of 1920, a team entirely made up of elements of the Palestinian community.
Between 1921 and 1923, the Club Deportivo Palestino participated in the championships of the Central Football Association of Santiago in the youth’s league, honor series, with good results.
Due to the fact of hostility of the other teams and chilean people because the palestinian origin’s players, the team decided to mostly focus on the practice of tennis, because it was a less contact sport, and it was considered a ‘mainly gentlemen sport’.
In Los Sports magazine, No. 289, September 21, 1928, Elias Deik himself reveals this point in a very diplomatic manner in the article entitled “Elias Deik tells us his sporting life.”
Its possible to see more details about this topic in Article Nº3: First line up of Club Deportivo Palestino and origins of football in Palestine.
4. Palestine Sport Club, the Golden Age of Tennis.
Indeed, in those years, after reorienting the efforts towards the practice of tennis, the institution was better known as ‘Palestina Sport Club’ or ‘Palestina Sporting Club’, on the style of tennis club names.
In 1924, the first tennis team, composed of Deik brothers (Elias and Salvador), the Yunis brothers (Fuad, Alfredo and Rosa Yunis), the Thumala brothers (Elias and Victoria Thumala) and Zaror brothers, with relative success in competitions between other tennis clubs.
A few years later, the team built their own sport complex. It was located on Avenue Centenario (present Avenue Einstein), corner of General Freire (current Albano street) in the middle district of Recoleta.
This success was the result of the decision to focusing efforts towards the practice of tennis, which was rewarded when two tennis players came out in favor of the Chilean tennis: brothers Elias and Salvador Deik Lamas (coincidentally, great uncles of promising chilean tennis player Gonzalo Lama).
Just when Elias Deik was having good results in August 1926, he almost left his tennis player career because a confusing fact. It was regarding their exclusion from the chilean team which would participate in the Mitre Cup in Buenos Aires, apparently by direct elimination system. Finally Fritz Bierwirth and Carlos Doren it classified. It was argued for drawing such a conclusion that Elias Deik ‘had a style that did not fit with the elegance that a player should have’. All this was based on a pretext: the lack of experience… but Elias was not discouraged and continued to fight against adversity.
Elias Deik was among the best Chilean players without much threatening rivals until the mid-30s, being interrupted when his brother Salvador was finally able to beat him in the finals of Chile 1936, the last title win a Chilean until the next six years later. The match was played at night at the International Sporting Club of Bellavista and generated great expectations in the media and among the public that filled the nearly thousand seats that were arranged for the occasion.
At the end of the decade of the 20s, the Deik brothers leave the Palestina Sport Club for moving to International Sporting Club, located in Bellavista street, because they could have a better development of its skills and achieve greater competitive friction; while Fuad Yunis continued to represent Palestinian Sport Club, and while disputing university tournaments, usually playing doubles with Juan Uribe.
Its possible to see more details about this topic in Article N°5: Palestina Sport Club, the golden age of tennis
5. First Arab Olympic Games
In a very little known fact, in the 1930s, the Palestina Sport Club board of directors, in an attempt to promote sport in the communities of Arab immigrants (Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese) and their children, organized an Olympic Games where even organizations and sports clubs were invited from Santiago, the capital of Chile.
These were 3 Olympic Games in consecutive years, from 1933 to 1935, with a reduced amount of sports, and without still consider the practice of football: Basketball, tennis, table tennis, and additionally chess and tawle.
Considering Palestina Sport Club already had a sports complex, which consisted of a sports complex with 3 courts, and there were also places where the Arab community could meet, such as the Sirio-Palestino Club of the time, there was already an acceptable infrastructure to organize an event with these characteristics.
Another aspect not less important to consider is that the great depression of 1929 affected Chile tremendously until 1932, but even so the idea of fomenting the sport integration of the Arab community was powerful.
The biggest challenge was transportation. Chile is a fairly long country (more than 4000 km from north to south) and although it already had a train network that connected much of the territory and surely all cities could not participate. In fact, the participants most distant to the capital resided in Concepción, 500 kms south of Santiago, but none of that prevented the realization of these sporting events. Such a trip on the trains of that time, did not last less than 10 hours.
5.1. First Olympic Games (September 1933)
The idea was born in August 1933, when the Palestina Sport Club board of directors suggested a competition between the young athletes of the Arab community in Chile, for which the First Arab Olympic Games was organized.
These first games were carried out between the 17 and 20 of September of that same year, between the following institutions:
Deportivo Juvenil Árabe (Quillota), Deportivo Árabe (Valparaiso), Club Unión Árabe (Viña del Mar), Deportivo Sirio and Palestina Sport Club (Santiago), Palestina Sport Club (Talca) and Deportivo Árabe (Concepción).
In that opportunity, the competitions would be the following: Tennis, basketball and table tennis. In addition there were competitions of checkers, chess and tawle, for both men and women.
Apparently this first Olympiad was the first Arab Olympic Games on the American continent.
5.2. Second Olympic Games (March 1934)
With the success of the first Olympiad in September 1933, during the competition it was agreed that during the Easter days of 1934 the second Olympic Games would be held.
The following institutions participated: Deportivo Sirio (Syrian Sport Club), Palestina Sport Club of Santiago, Palestina Sport Club of Talca, Juventud Árabe de Quillota (Quillota’s Arab Youth), Deportivo Árabe de Concepción (Arab Sport Club of Concepción), Deportivo Árabe de Valparaíso (Arab Sport Club of Valparaiso), who competed in basketball, tennis, table tennis and tawle.
Apparently, this Olympics caused a lot of expectation, which caused a huge audience attendance that attended to see the competitions, and according to the chronicles of the time, the stadium became narrow to receive them, and if it was not successful was due to failures in the organization and supposedly due to lack of coordination of the organizing committee.
5.3. Third Olympiad (April 1935)
This Third Olympiad took place during the holidays of Easter week, that is to say, from 19 to 21 April, easter of 1935, also in charge of the Palestina Sport Club.
In these Olympic Games only competitions of basketball, tennis and table tennis were realized, counting on the same delegations that competed in the previous editions: Deportivo Sirio, Palestina Sport Club de Santiago, Palestina Sport Club de Talca, Sport Juvenil Árabe de Quillota, Deportivo Árabe de Concepción, Deportivo Árabe de Valparaíso.
In this Olympics, the attendance to the championship of the Arab sportsmen was much reduced in comparison to the tournament of the last year.
6. Fusion with Club Palestino and definitive change of name
In 1939, one year after the foundation of Club Palestino (a social club which join the palestinian community and their descendants in Chile, located in Santo Domingo N°673), the members of ‘Palestina Sport Club’ decided to making a fusion with that social club, recommending at the same time if they cannot improve the tennis courts which belong to ‘Palestina Sport Club’, it was better to selling that property. Since this moment, the name of the team is changed to the definitive ‘Club Deportivo Palestino’.
Its possible to see more details about this topic in Memoria del Club Palestino from May 14th 1949 (spanish)
7. Amador Yarur became president and Involvement in other sports
Since its beginnings, the named at that time ‘Club Sportivo Palestina’ already had young people who dedicated to the practice of swimming and other sports, but there is not a doubt about the presidency of Amador Yarur in 1945 meant a new stage for the team, where there was an injection of important resources and the expansion of other sports branches.
Between 1946 and 1947, Club Deportivo Palestino began to get involved in other sports such as roller hockey and basketball.
Roller hockey was a totally experimental sport in Chile, but Club Deportivo Palestino managed to have a very competitive team, having as main figure to Wilfrido Bendeck.
In September 1948, Club Deportivo Palestino became undefeated champion of the Opening Championship of Santiago, in its first and second team in their respective series.
Basketball also had its successes in the years 50s, when it reached the championships of the Association of Basketball of Santiago in years 1954, 1956 and 1958.
8. Process of professionalization of the football team
8.1. Promoters of the professionalization of the football team
At the same time that the other sports are developed, and having perspective of the conscience that awoke with the announcement of the Partition of Palestine in 1947, it was a good reason to start creating an initiative for the football branch to have a professional team playing in the first division of the Chilean league (already existing since 1933). This could not have been possible without of the financial help of Amador Yarur and the tremendous logistics of Father Raúl Hasbún.
This initiative was formally finalized on June 19, 1949 at 12:30 pm, when the branch of football was reborn in the halls of the Club Palestino, in those years located in the street Santo Domingo in Santiago of Chile, from the will of a group of young people with Palestinian roots.
8.2. Tribute match for the 1920 veteran players
On Sunday, December 11, 1949, under the presidency of Mr. Raul Abufhele, a historic game was held between the incipient group of boys who took the initiative to retake the branch of football of the club, and the veterans of 1920, founders of this branch.
This memorable match finished 3-3, and at the end of the game a cocktail was offered along with an awards ceremony to the veteran players.
8.3. 1950 Olympiad in Osorno
After a period of professionalization of the club, in 1947 due to the announcement of partition of Palestine by the United Nations, so the year 1950 was a key year: A bigger Olympic Games for arab institutions is organized in Osorno, where Palestino of Santiago wins in football, and the team gains the right to be postulated later to play in the Chilean league as a representative of the Palestinian community.
8.4. Tournament of the Six
Also the year 1951 was crucial in the professional future of Palestine. Before taking part in the professional tournament, Palestino had a tough test, a mini tournament called the Tournament of the Six, which was held in 1951 and served as a prelude to demonstrate that the project about a professional team was serious.
In that tournament participated 3 professional teams, that were Audax Italiano, Iberia and Magallanes (powerful team of those years) and 3 amateur teams: Olímpico from La Cisterna, Manuel Plaza and Club Deportivo Palestino. The first game was played against Iberia, where they had to overcome the first obstacle, Palestino failed to gather the 11 players, therefore they appeared with 9 men and even with this difficulty, the team managed to defeat Iberia by 3-2 and then Club Deportivo Palestino would win the tournament, making it clear that the interest in being a professional team was real. An anecdotal detail was that the players of Club Deportivo Palestino were not informed of the importance of this tournament, for not bothering them or increase their nervousness, a strategy that had excellent results.
8.5. Entry of Club Deportivo Palestino into professionalism.
After various efforts, in 1952, the Central Football Association of Chile accepted Club Palestino Palestino to participate in the emerging and experimental Second Division, which concludes the amateur period of the team.