The Palestinian national football team played against South Africa’s Western Cape 11 on Sunday, in a friendly meant to signify South Africa’s solidarity with Palestinians.
President Cyril Ramaphosa led spectators in chants of “Free Free Palestine!” and reiterated South Africa’s continued support for Palestinians in the ongoing war with Israel.
Other top officials attended including Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor.
“The people of Palestine and the leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, led by Abu Ammar, Comrade Yasser Arafat, were amongst the greatest friends and supporters of our struggle for freedom. They stood by us during our darkest days, giving us hope and courage,” President Ramaphosa said, drawing reference to his country’s struggle against apartheid.
“Today, we the people of a free South Africa, take your hands in ours. We stand with you and by you,” he added.
President Ramaphosa also thanked spectators “for being here supporting the people of Palestine”.
The match was scheduled to coincide with the anniversary of the 1990 prison release of South Africa’s liberation hero and former President Nelson Mandela.
A statement by South Africa’s presidency also said that the match “aims to provide Palestinian players with the opportunity to enjoy their favourite sport in conditions of peace and sound infrastructure”.