Meet Roberto Bishara who, in this iPhone screenshot, is celebrating the goal he just scored.
Bishara is a Roman Catholic Palestinian whose family immigrated to Chile from Palestine’s occupied West Bank. He was born in Chile’s capital city, Santiago de Chile, where he was immersed in the country’s vibrant Palestinian community.
Chile is home to upwards of 500,000 Palestinians which is widely considered to be the largest Palestinian community outside of the Middle East. Palestinian immigration to Chile dates back to the mid-1800s and has seen spikes following World War I and the Nakba of 1948 in which thousands of Palestinians fled for their lives.
Bishara plays for Club Deportivo Palestino in Chile’s top league, the Primera División. He carries the number 25 and plays as a left back defender.
CD Palestino’s team crest pays homage to its roots. The team was founded in 1920 by a group of Palestinian immigrants to represent the city of Santiago and has since gone on to win the league twice (1955, 1978). Most recently, the Árabes finished second in the league in 2008.
The team’s website features an enormous Palestinian flag all the way at the bottom.
CD Palestino’s captain, Filipe Nuñez, spent a week visiting the Aida Refugee Camp in Bethlehem this past May to better understand the lives of Palestinians under occupation and to reaffirm the deep partnership between Chileans and Palestinians. He credits his interest in Palestine to the club’s history and Bishara’s own background.
Bishara isn’t the only Palestinian to play for CD Palestino. At least three others have played for the squad, including Roberto Kettlun who has since been transferred and now plays as a midfielder for Hilal Al-Quds in the West Bank Premier League in Palestine.
Bishara also plays for the Palestinian national team, for which he has been a vital squad member since 2002.
Electronic Arts, developer of FIFA 14, added CD Palestino and the Chilean national league to the FIFA series this year. Bishara is one of at least two Palestinians featured in the game. The other is Alexis Norambuena.
Check out the team’s anthem below and make sure to sing along with it every time Bishara steps onto the pitch. There’s something special about this beautiful song and this team’s beautiful tradition.