Palestino through the years
The following article is aimed at reviewing the important facts of Palestino over the years, linking them to what was happening in Palestine and how they impacted on the Chilean Palestinian community. For this it will be given a look at the different decades of the club in its professional stage. Emphasizing the events in the Middle East to help to understand the relevance of Palestine and all that entails its representation.
Early years (as professional institution)
The history of Club Deportivo Palestino begins professionally (it is known that as an institution began in 1916) in 1952, when it is accepted by the Central Football Association, which was implementing an incipient and experimental Second Chilean Division. With an outstanding campaign, they define the title with Rangers in Rancagua (neutral court), resulting Palestino as the champion and with that achieving the promotion to the First Division of Chile.
In 1953, based on a millionaire budget and with highly committed leaders, with a meritorious campaign the team finishes in 2nd place, behind Colo Colo.
This year also decided to change the team’s shirt, which until that time had been half vertical red and half vertical white. And it was the beginning of the use of the currently colors white, red and green in its shirt, and black in its pants. The meaning of these colors is that it is composed of three horizontal stripes of the same size (black, white and green), joined with a red triangle located at the edge of the mast. The colors of the horizontal stripes symbolize the Abbasí Caliphate, the Caliphate of the Umayyad Dynasty and the Fatimid Caliphate. The red triangle represents the Hachemí dynasty that participated in the Arab Rebellion.
Only three years after its professional debut, in 1955 the team won its first national title, with a legendary team led by Roberto Coll, Rodolfo Almeyda, Osvaldo Pérez, José Fernandez, Guillermo Diaz, José Donoso, among others. It was a non-minor achievement considering that they were champions 9 points from the 2nd (when the winner won 2 points and not 3 as is the current rules).
In those years Palestine had already been “broken up” so the Palestinian community in Chile at that time tried to channel its eagerness for acceptance and validation through Palestino. Then the Palestinian identity was strengthened along with the process of social adaptation, partly helped because there was no manipulation of the media like the one that exists today. While here in Chile an effort was made to keep Palestinian values intact, in Palestine the population had to accommodate the new lifestyle marked by occupation and the deterrent of refugees to return to their own homes.
The summary of the 1950s could be summarized as follows: in Chile, palestino, enjoyed its first title, together with making known part of the nation from which it came, stating the need for integration, while at the same time the term ” Palestinian refugees “because of the expulsion of their lands, began to exists, thus the beginning of a nightmare for thousands of Palestinians who had to pay the price of the greed of the European powers. Many Palestinian families were forced to settle in refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon and different places, which have been used and abandoned to their fate.
On the sport’s scope, they were quiet years for Club Deportivo Palestino, nevertheless in Palestine existed some concrete facts whose consequences have branched out to the present day.
In 1964 Club Deportivo Palestino finished in the sixteenth position, being saved narrowly of the descent, whereas in Middle East was created in that same year the P.L.O. (Palestine Liberation Organization) led by Yasser Arafat and conveying the need for an organization to protect the interests of the Palestinian people. 1964 was not a productive year in terms of sporting results, but a definitive one to shape the Palestinian identity and turn it into a symbol of struggle.
In 1965, the team was enforced by the recruitment of Orlando ‘Chocolito’ Ramirez, Raúl Angulo and Carlos Rubén Villagarcía, once again taking the protagonist role that it had in the previous decade.
In 1966, with the arrival of the new coach, Alfredo ‘Conejo’ Scopelli, the team gains in strategic power, and at the same time consolidates one of the best defenses in the team’s history, with: Victor Castañeda, Raúl Angulo, Ismael Ahumada and Gustavo Cortés.
In 1967, Club Deportivo Palestino occupied the twelfth place, while in the Middle East the 6-Day War broke out, whose consequences were especially harmful for Palestine, since those who fought for the freedom of the Palestinian people were branded as “terrorists” which Had profound repercussions on the identity of any Palestinian or Palestinian descendant, marking the beginning that any act by pro-Palestinian groups it would syndicated as terrorist acts, paying full attention to the consequences, but not on the genesis that gave life to these particular situations. This stigmatizes the Palestinian as a terrorist. The impact of the Palestinian community residing in Chile was no a minor thing, because there was a kind of division between those who did not want to be involved with the events of the Middle East vs. those who viewed Palestino as resistance symbol of a nation that refused (and continues) to lose its essence as culture and society.
In this decade Club Deportivo Palestino would obtain its greater achievement, nevertheless at the beginning of the 70, the tricolores (a nicknamegiven because it shirt) were in second division (present first b). They would return in 72, while the world watched with astonishment as in 1972 during the Olympic Games in Munich, a faction of the P.L.O, kidnapped the Israeli delegation, which would carry the unthinkable until then, the eruption of violence in the Olympics, results in an international condemnation and discredit for the Palestinian cause.
Once again the public and investigative focus remained with the act itself forgetting completely that the motivation behind such a situation was, is and remains the occupation and constant violations of Palestinian rights. However, the impact on the Palestinian community, and especially on those in charge of Palestino, was to detach themselves from the Palestinian cause and turn it into almost invisible support, due to the fear about social condemnation, and to avoid putting Club Deportivo Palestino in a hard situation. Is understandable considering the scarcity of available information, and the label of “terrorism” was already being manipulated at the convenience of the unscrupulous that saw in the Arab world a good place to exploit, manipulate and occupy as a scapegoat for their nefarious governments.
On the other hand, 1972 for Palestine was a positive year, from Ruben Marcos´hand, the team is the champion of the Second Division, to return to the top division of Chilean football.
In 1973 a plan led by Enrique Atal, a former director of the team, was already in the process of professionalization in the early 1950s, in order to recover the power of the team achieved in previous decades. This plan was quite ambitious and counted in 1974 with the recruitment of Caupolicán Peña, a very innovative DT for the time, the hiring of great players such as Oscar Fabbiani and also taking advantage of the fruitful lower divisions.
In 1974, Yasser Arafat presented himself at the UN General Assembly to give a speech in which to raise the legitimate struggle of the Palestinians against the Israeli occupation, immortalized the famous phrase: “I come with a rifle in one hand and one Olive branch in the other, do not allow the olive branch to fall from my hand, I repeat, do not allow the olive branch to fall from my hand. Following this, the UN gives the PLO the status of permanent observer.
The results are already in 1975: Palestino wins the Chile Cup, defeating Lota Schwager 4-0.
At that moment, the team begins to fight the top positions. Also, that same year, the team wins the league to qualify for Copa Libertadores of 1976.
In 1977, Palestino made a tremendous hit: it managed to repatriate Elias Figueroa, star defender of Internacional of Porto Alegre in Brazil, and one of the best Chilean players. The results are not left to wait and that same year Palestine defeats in the end of the copa Chile to Union española by 4-3 and outside of that, wins the playoffs of that year to qualify to copa Liberadores of 1978.
In 1978 Palestino obtained his second title, the team led by Elías Figueroa was raised as champion, besides to have a unique record in the Chilean football of 44 games without knowing defeat, whereas in the Arab world the agreements of Camp David, where Egypt signed peace with Israel, the consequences were the total rejection of the Arab world, including the Palestinians since in those agreements there was never any clarity regarding Palestine. These agreements promised a solution, but at the same time, such a solution never contemplates that the Palestinian people have been the great forgotten and the most important victim of this conflict.
In the 1980s two important facts took place.
In 1982 occurred the massacre of Sabra and Shatila, a horrible fact in which the Lebanese Christian phalanges helped by the Zionist army perpetrated a slaughter without any justification. The first unit of 150 Falangists, armed with pistols, knives and axes, entered the Palestinian refugee camps at Sabra and Chatila, outside Beirut, at 6:00 p.m. They committed a massacre by killing Palestinians, the vast majority of them were elderly, women and children, all of them defenseless civilians. A cowardly act that shows the real face of Zionism: cynical, sick and immoral as demonstrated by these two statements: the former Israeli minister (Menahen Begin) expressed after the massacre: “In Shatila non-Jews killed non-Jews what We have to do us with that? “, However, the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth said:” On Thursday and Friday morning, ministers and officials (Israelis) already knew about the massacre, and did nothing to stop it. The government had known since Thursday night and did not move a finger or do anything to stop it.”.
In 1985, Club Deportivo Palestino was one of the finalists of the Copa Polla Gol, being defeated by Colo-Colo 1-0.
In 1986, having Orlando Aravena as coach, in the local tournament Club Deportivo Palestino made a great campaign, which almost one the champioship. In fact, there were passages where Palestino was 3 points ahead of Colo Colo, it main pursuer, but for punctual errors came with equal points at the end of the championship.
In the penultimate gameit had to beat Universidad De Chile, but it lost 1 to 0 with that cursed goal of Rojas, postponing the definition against Colo Colo who beat Cobresal, equaling in 43 points to Palestino. The final would be won by Colo Colo 2-0 and drowning the cry of champion of all the palestino fans. The team could not recover from that lost final, and ended up being defeated by Cobreloa in the qualifying round for the Copa Libertadores ,losing all the possibilities to achieve something important…so close so far at the same time.
What came after was not auspicious: In 1987, Oscar Fabbiani and Rodolfo Dubó got retired. Two emblematic players of the team, and without a refill of such level.
In 1988, the good news was the inauguration of the Municipal Stadium of La Cisterna, where Palestino would play at home by means of a loan with the Municipality of La Cisterna, but all this was tarnished by a horrible campaign where the team finishes last, with the immediate consequence that Palestino descends to the Second Chilean Division.
In 1989, Palestino finishes first in its group of the Second Division, obtaining the ascent again to the First Division, losing in a game of definition against University de Chile.
The 1990’s were dark years; Club Deportivo Palestino was in a crisis of both identity and sports perfomance. Althought the decade started pretty good with Manuel Pellegrini as coach. Club Deportivo Palestino gave him an opportunity to him, after he got relegated after managing Universidad de Chile in 1988.
It is well remembered the campaign of Copa Chile 1991 where the team reached the semifinals and lost against Universidad Católica by penal kicks (3-4) after having tied 1-1 on both legs. In the Chile Cup of 1992, the team had a tremendous streak of more than 20 unbeaten games, until losing with Club Deportivo O’Higgins by penalties 5-3 after having drawn 1-1.
In 1993 the Oslo accords were signed, which were harmful in every sense, on the one hand in the club palestino of Chile a great dinner was made to celebrate the end of the conflict. The Palestino president at the time made a rather misleading statement, saying that with the end of the Palestinian conflict “it would not make much sense anymore to have Club Deportivo Palestino”. This is not to be misunderstood, the president who was Elias Abufom did a great management and even miraculous,because the community in those years a little attention for palestino had, just that was what kept the the institution in an ostracism, the little incentive of the Community about what is really palestino and it background. These declarations perhaps were also fruit of the disenchantment of those who took charge of the club combine with a null response from part of the community. Well, these agreements ended with the assassination of Rabin (Prime Minister of Israel) and a worsening of the conflict, while Palestino fell into oblivion and whose maximum achievement in this decade was not to descend.
The arrival of the new millennium would bring new airs for Club Deportivo Palestino, but not everything was easy, after excellent campaigns in the first three years of this new millennium (2000-2003) in 2005 would bring what for many fans was the biggest mistake, Palestino becomes In a joint-stock company, the shirt was changed and the badge was invested in players who had to be a contribution, but that led to a sports debacle that led to an institutional failure and whose failures were due to the inexperience of the families that acquired the club ( Not with bad intention).
An important point was in 2004, when the bankruptcy of the team was declared, then to be auctioned off and reborn as a Sport Public Limited Company (SADP according chilean law), and bought by other leaders with more business experience, mostly members of the Belén 2000 Foundation. It was intended a renewal that only resulted in the loss of identity and a break with the community. A big crisis and perhaps one of the worst that has lived Palestino. And it really hopes that never happens again.
Next, the results did not improve, and even the team had to go 2 times to playoffs for keeping the category (2006 and 2009).
The exception was the 2008 season, when the team qualified to the final match against Colo Colo after the playoffs, in which he was defeated 3-1 but opposing enough resistance despite the difference in team budgets. It was important when in the first match of the final, Club Deportivo Palestino could tie 1-1 Colo-Colo with 9 players on the field, as Felipe Nuñez (goalkeeper) and Roberto Bishara (defender) had been sent off.
The little experience of the new leaders was clearly noticed when these did not ensure the renovation of at least 5 important players in this team, including all the defense, which ended up going to other teams.
This made the team much more despicable after the great season of 2008, which was reflected directly when in 2009 the team had a terrible campaign, being very close to the relegation to the Chilean First B Division, being saved miraculously in an heart-stopping relegation playoffs against San Marcos Of Arica. In Arica, Palestino comfortably won 2-0, but in the second leg, the team speculated on the result, suffering 2 goals by San Marcos, finishing 2-0 on the 90 minutes, and forcing a definition by penalties, which won Club Deportivo Palestino by 4-2.
Years 2011 to Present
Meanwhile Israel intensified its blockades to Gaza, it perpetrated and continues to carry out numerous bombings to Palestinian land, it has continued humiliating to a whole population, making them feel guilty and miserable to be Palestinians and to be born in their “promised land”, while all that happened (And continues to happen) came the momentum that it was needed both as an institution and identity, which was to replace the “1s” with the map of Palestinian historical territory in early 2014, a fact that had a great impact on the Palestinian community. The community realize that Palestino is more than just a club, Chile also began to know the background of Palestino, began to understand that these 4 colors are a symbol of resistance.
All this added to the arrival of Pablo Guede who understood very well what is the Palestinian cause and was the force to awaken the consciences of those who wear the colors of palestino, the result of that campaign that allowed it to play again international matches after More than 30 years and now under the tutelage of Nicolás Cordova from 2016 it maintains a competitive squad that has palestino fighting of equal to equal with South American giants (Libertad of Paraguay and Flamengo of Brazil), that is why all that supporters of this Club (with or non-Palestinian origins) wants it to be the symbol of struggle and identity and the map never gone of the shirt, because it is enough fuel so that never again feel ashamed of who what palestino are.
Source (extract): ‘Palestino a través de los años’, El Hincha de Cartón