The new football season has kicked-off in England, the world's most glamorous, richest and popular league. It is a world away from the troubles of Palestine.

The beautiful game has a universal appeal from world famous venues like Anfield and Old Trafford, to the back streets of Gaza City.

Palestine was accepted as a FIFA member in 1998. A national team is a powerful symbol for a people without a state, but progress has been difficult. Palestinian players in Gaza have spent the past few weeks living under Israeli bombardment.

The national stadium and the offices of the Palestinian Football Association (PFA) still bear the scars of the last Israeli campaign in 2009.

In the occupied West Bank, two footballers, Mohammed Qatari and Udai Jaber, were killed in protests, just three days ago.

The president of the PFA, Jibril Rajoub, told Al Jazeera that even in calmer times players face harassment from Israeli security forces and are prevented from travelling abroad to train or attend games.

Israel denies deliberately targeting players and says it has to control who enters the Palestinian territories to protect its security. But the recent assault on Gaza, in which nearly 2,000 Palestinians were killed, has given new energy to calls for a sporting and cultural boycott.

So, is it time to show Israel the red card?

Presenter: Sohail Rahman


Uriel Sturm, the sports editor of the Jerusalem Post and head of the American football league in Israel.

Luther Blisset played professional football for AC Milan and England. He is an ambassador for the Show Racism the Red Card campaign.

Pauline McNeill, a former member of the Scottish parliament and chair of the Middle East and North Africa Forum in Scotland, which campaigns for Palestinian rights.

Source: Al Jazeera