Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas thanked Qatar and its emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, on Sunday, for using their position as hosts of the World Cup soccer tournament to promote the Palestinian cause.
The call came moments after the close of a weeks-long tournament in which Palestinian flags featured prominently on the pitch, in the stands, and around Qatar’s bevy of soccer-related festivities, much of it part of what appeared to be a conscious effort by Doha to advocate for the Palestinian national struggle on the world stage.
Abbas congratulated Qatar on its “great success” hosting the tournament and said it “brought pride to our souls and the souls of our Arab nations,” he told Qatari emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani in the call, according to the official PA news site WAFA.
Abbas also thanked Qatar for the “support provided during this occasion to Palestine, presenting the Palestinian cause to the world in an unprecedented way.”
Qatar, which has no official diplomatic ties with Israel, nevertheless allowed Israeli fans to enter the country for the tournament, in an unprecedented move.
Palestinian flags were a common site at the World Cup, in particular among fans of the Moroccan team, and were also hoisted in prominent places around the country. Fans carrying Palestinian flags were exempt from rules banning banners of countries not playing, and Moroccan players made a habit of waving the Palestinian flag after many of its surprise wins.
Morocco team players and many of their supporters expressed solidarity with the Palestinians on and off the field during the team’s impressive run in the tournament, which saw it become the first Arab nation to reach a World Cup semifinal, ultimately placing fourth.
Argentina beat defending champions France on Sunday night in a thrilling, hard-fought World Cup final game.