At the start of 2017 I returned to Israel, Gaza and the West Bank to write a three part feature on football in the Holy Land. It is a region I know well from writing When Friday Comes. Much has changed since then, and in other ways nothing has changed at all.
I started in Tel Aviv, where I met Israel’s Liverpool Supporters Club.
You can read part one of Football in the Holy Land here.
From there I travelled to the Green Line, which nominally separates Israel from the what the Palestinians hope will be their future state. The Palestine FA is currently battling FIFA over the issue of settlement football clubs; six teams from Israel’s lower leagues playing in territory that under international law is considered Palestinian (although Israel disputes this).
You can read part two of Football in the Holy Land: The Green Line, here.
Finally, I crossed in to the Gaza Strip, which is under blockade by Israel and Egypt. There I spent a weekend watching the Gazan league, where I met a talented young striker, trapped in politics and bureaucracy.