Article Nº3: First line up of Club Deportivo Palestino and origins of football in Palestine.

Note: This is the article Nº3 about the historical research about Club Deportivo Palestino for the project ‘4 Colores’

First Palestino’s line up in 1920

This was the so-called “honor team”, first team of Club Deportivo Palestino from 1920s, the team was made up entirely of elements of the Palestinian community. (1)

The football branch founders, which it was made at august 20th, 1920 (other versions says it was august 8th), were 17 young men (1):

Nicolás Hirmas, Carlos Ahues, Plácido Abugarade, Elias Bichara Thumala, René Zaror, Elias Hirmas, Victor Panayotti, Jorge Lama, Malof, Antonio Abugarade, Miguel Saffie, Jacobo Halabi, Emilio Deik, Antonio Zarah, Elias Zaror, Juan Thumala, José Yunis y Elias Deik

it’s worthy to distinguish that from the moment of its foundation in 1916, football was played like other sports, but there wasn´t exists a consolidated team.

The roots of Palestinian Football

Meanwhile, in the early twentieth century, parallel in Palestine there was an incipient football development. In 1908, two teams were created: One was the Rawdat al-Ma’aref (Garden of Knowledge) and the other one was St. George-from the Anglican school of the same name-, which it was formed by Izzat Tannous, a Palestinian protestant, who later became a doctor and he was a representative of the High Arab Committee for Palestine in the United Nations General Assembly.

In 1909, St George traveled to Beirut to play against the team of the American University of Beirut, one of the best in the region and defeated them.

In 1910, a group of young men, including: Dawud Di‘dis, Fa’iq Bullata, George Khuri, Hilmi Husayni, Qustandi Labbat, George Halabi, Abdallah Jamal, Hasan ‘Awda, Tawfiq al-Husayni, Salim Hanna y Fu’ad Nashashibi-, they form a team to compete with other teams from abroad, most of them missionaries. It could be considered that it was a sort of the first Palestine National Team. (3)

Other important institutions arose, as for example ‘Sport Club’ (Cercle Sportif / al-Muntada al-Riyadi) which it was founded in 1911. (2)

After the establishment of the British Mandate, in 1923, it was organized the first conference of orthodox Christians clubs, it was important for the development of athletics programs. The conference was an instance to protest because Orthodox community perceives a greater influence of foreign churches in the local spirituality. This was the kick starter for the establishment of new partnerships and sport clubs in Palestine and Transjordan.

Among these new clubs, it can be found the following ones: Orthodox clubs from Jaffa (1924), Jerusalem (1926) and Haifa (1937). Also completing this list the foundation of Gaza Sport Club (1924), Islamic Sport Club from Jaffa (1926) and Arab Sport Club (1927), among others. (4)

Despite the fact that some Teams names including words like ‘islamic’ or ‘orthodox’, the historical references shows that these teams had members from both religions. Meanwhile, clubs as Shabab al-‘Arab from Haifa and Arab sport, keep distance from religions and its identification comes from a national and local (regional) identity. Anyway, football became in an area of contention and competition between palestinians and zionists.

Later in March (1931) the first Palestinian National Team competed against the American University of Beirut and this team was a mixture between members from Islamic Sport Club and Club Orthodox  (Jaffa),  Arab Sport Club  (Jerusalem) YMCA and  St. George. A Palestinian newspaper called ‘Filastin’ published: “If this team was formed, it will be the strongest Palestinian team, even stronger than british teams and jewish teams”. This kind of facts refutes jewish affirmations and zionist propaganda as well. Zionist propaganda said: “Palestinians are ignorant and they have nothing to do with sports, worse than that it was that Egyptians brothers were deceived by this kind of arguments without a solid base.” (3)

Original post:


(1) “Suplemento Gráfico de Oriente en el Micrófono”, Año 3, Nº3, 1953-04-30. Personal archives of Carlos Hasbún Hasbún.

(2) Late Ottoman Palestine-The Period of Young Turk Rule (Yuval Ben-Bassat/Eyal Ginio, 2011)

(3) Sports and Aspirations-Football in Palestine, 1900-1948 (Issam Khalidi, 2014)

(4) Body and Ideology: Early Athletics in Palestine (1900-1948) (Issam Khalidi, 2006)