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2018 Longshot: Israel-Palestine World Cup
Guardian, July 25th, 2008 4:45PM

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While England and the United States are among the countries expected to bid for the right to host the 2018 World Cup, Israeli filmmaker Eytan Heller is promoting the idea of a joint Israel-Palestine bid. "The original idea came in 2006 during the World Cup when I traveled to Ramallah," Heller said. "I was amazed to see the flags of all the European teams on the roofs of the city and seeing the same thing in Tel Aviv in my neighborhood, it seemed like a continuity of fraternity, so I wanted to launch a campaign to launch the candidacy."

Heller's plan is to stage matches in the Palestinian cities of Ramallah, Tulkarem and Gaza and Haifa, Tel Aviv and Mitzpe Ramon in Israel. The final would be held in Jerusalem. Heller, whose campaign is hoping to get traction from soccer fans around the world, is eliciting support on his 2018 bid organization's web site.

"It's a grassroots campaign and the idea is to try and grow organically and stay away from the political heaviness and manipulation of organizations that have links to government and have nationalistic agendas," he said. "Look at Japan and Korea. They were enemies too and overcame that. Why not here? There are a lot of cynics who laugh at this idea and start to ask very realistic questions. How can we build stadiums? Aren't the territories too small? You can say the same thing about peace but if you don't believe in it what is the point in being here?"

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