It was recently announced that Palestine will rename the football stadium after Brazil’s Pelé, who passed late last year and was dubbed the King of Football.
A new chapter in Palestinian sports history was written with the inauguration of the Pele International Stadium in Bethlehem, as dignitaries from the football world came together to celebrate this significant event.
Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa bin Ahmed Al-Thani, President of the Qatar Football Association (QFA), was in attendance at the invitation of Palestinian Minister of Sports and President of the Palestinian Football Association, Lieutenant-General Jibril Rajoub.
The stadium’s grand opening coincided with the poignant anniversary of Nakba Day.
The ceremony also saw the presence of esteemed guests including Prince Ali bin al-Hussein, the President of the Jordan Football Association and the West Asian Federation, along with Hani Abu Raida, Vice-President of the Arab Football Association and member of the FIFA Council.
Palestine’s prime minister, Mohamed Shtayyeh, hosted a meeting with Sheikh Hamad on mutual interests and strategies to foster stronger ties in various football-related aspects, reflecting the distinguished relations that exist between Qatar and Palestine.
Expressing appreciation for Sheikh Hamad’s illustrious sporting career and efforts to bolster Qatari-Palestinian brotherly relations, Shtayyeh, on behalf of President Mahmoud Abbas, awarded the Grand Star of the Order of Jerusalem to the QFA President.
Dheisheh refugee camp visit
Sheikh Hamad also paid a visit to the Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem.
During the Israeli occupation of the West Bank before 1967, Dheisheh Camp was known as the “camp of mass incarceration” because it was surrounded by barbed wire, making it difficult for people to move around.
Dheisheh is the largest refugee camp in the southern West Bank, which encompasses Bethlehem and Hebron. Much political and cultural activism, as well as institution building, has happened there, both before and after the foundation of the Palestinian Authority (PA).
Dheisheh Camp was established in 1949 on 0.31 square kilometres of territory within the Bethlehem Municipality.
The Jordanian government leased the parcel of land to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).