(PalestineTwitter)-Palestine national football team is the national team of the Palestinian Football Federation, representing the Palestinian National Authority.
The Palestine Football Federation was founded in 1952, but was not recognized by FIFA until 1998, after the creation of the Palestinian Authority.
The team reached an all-time high position of 115 in the FIFA ranking system in April 2006 after seven years of progression from 191st in August 1999. Following their recognition by FIFA, the team played no official fixtures in the Palestinian Territories due to security concerns until a match on October 26, 2008 against Jordan in the newly renovated Faisal Al-Husseini International Stadium in Al-Ram north of Jerusalem, which finished in a 1-1 draw. In recognition of their efforts the Palestinian Football Federation was awarded FIFA's inaugural Development Award.
The game was originally introduced during the time of the British Mandate. The Palestine/Eretz Israel FA was formed in 1928 and joined FIFA in 1929 but at the time the association was made up of Arab clubs, Jewish clubs and clubs representing British policemen and soldiers serving in the region during the British Mandate rule that spanned the period between World War One and the independence of the state of Israel in 1948. The qualification matches for the 1934 and 1938 World Cups were contested by a Palestine/Eretz Israel team made up exclusively of Jewish and British players.
In 2002, the PFA hired Nicola Shahwan as manager. Shahwan, who was born in Beit Jala, grew up in Chile and had many connections among Santiago's Palestinian community, whence he brought Roberto Bishara, Roberto Kettlun, Edgardo Abdala, Francisco Atura and the Argentine-born Pablo Abdala into the squad. These players made their debuts in the 2002 Arab Nations Cup. The team exited in the group stage but managed draws against group winners Jordan, hosts Kuwait, and Sudan, with their only loss coming against eventual semi-finalists Morocco.
In 2004, two more Arab Latin Americans joined the Palestinian national team Hernán Madrid and the Argentine-born Alejandro Naif.
After an unsuccessful Asian Cup qualifying campaign, the PFA hired Austrian coach Alfred Riedl to lead the team in the 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifications. Palestine were drawn in a group alongside Uzbekistan, Iraq and Chinese Taipei. In their first match, Palestine recorded an historic 8-0 win against the Taiwanese; two months later a 1-1 draw against Iraq put Palestine in first place in the group. Preparation for the team's third game, away to Uzbekistan, were hampered after the Israeli authorities refused travel permits for nearly half the squad. Barely able to put together a full team, Palestine sank to a 3-0 defeat, before losing both oftheir remaining games.
The Palestinian Football Federation faces problems in organising even training sessions for the entire team because of travel restrictions placed by Israel upon people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and the difficulty in obtaining an exit visa from Israel. Palestine FA promised the Jordanian that they would not recruit players from there considering that almost 70% of the Jordanian population have Palestinian ancestry, while many Israeli-Arabs are unwilling to trade in their Israeli passport for a Palestinian one. Many players in the team are drawn from the Palestinian diaspora, from as far away as Chile and the United States.