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Victory for Palestine at Belfast’s Anti-Racist World Cup

The fourth Anti-Racist World Cup (AWRC) took place in Belfast during June, attracting over 700 international guests and locals for a weekend of sport, debate and music, writes Bernard O’Reilly.

Festivities kicked off on Friday night, June 16, with interna¬tional guests enjoying a film and talk on Charles Donnelly, the Tyrone born poet and socialist who gave his life fighting Franco’s fascists in the Spanish Civil War in the clubhouse of Donegal Celtic F.C.

This was followed by DJs from ‘FC United Radio’, the fan-run ra¬dio station of F.C. United of Man¬chester (FCUM) providing a night of musical entertainment playing a solid mix of Ska, Reggae, Northern Soul and 80s Madchester sounds.

The football tournament kicked off at 10am on Saturday with teams from Palestine, Democratic Repub¬lic of Congo, Dusseldorf, Basque Country, Catalonia, Hamburg, Glasgow, Birmingham and Man¬chester taking part.

The Aston Villa side, made up of fans from four different countries, drew 1-1 with the Green Brigade, the left-wing Glasgow Celtic sup¬porters group. They followed this decent start with another draw, this time with the Catalonian side, but lost to the Cuban Solidarity team and failed to make it through to the second round.

The games were followed by a pub¬lic talk on the situation in Gaza by members of the Palestinian team.

Whereas the earlier football had been played in the rain, the sun came out for the highlight match of the weekend, a friendly between Belfast’s Cliftonville FC and visi¬tors F.C. United of Manchester – the latter club formed in 2005 by former Manchester United sup¬porters who defected from the fran¬chise following American Malcolm Glazer’s controversial takeover.

FCUM, only recently back from a friendly match with F.C. St. Paul in Hamburg, took an early lead but the Reds of Cliftonville showed their class in the second half, scoring two goals and winning the inaugural Supporters’ Cup 2-1.

After a long night of drinking and dancing to the musical delight of Dutch ska band The Roosterz, play¬ers had to kit out on Sunday morn¬ing and play the second round of the football tournament. Beating 23 other teams, the overall tournament was won by the Palestinian side, a heartening win for all concerned as they suffered severe problems try¬ing to acquire visas for the trip to Belfast.

Rumours abound that organisers are planning to bring FC St Pauli or Italian side Livorno to Belfast for a friendly match for next year’s Anti-Racism World Cup.

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