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In a powerful display of solidarity, 29-year-old Tunisian tennis sensation Ons Jabeur has pledged a portion of her Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Finals prize money to support Palestinians affected by the recent conflict. Australia’s national soccer team and the Local Organizing Committee of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup Qatar 2023 are making significant financial contributions. Egyptian football star Mohamed Salah also adds his name to the list of athletes making a difference with a donation. While Hollywood celebrities’ pro-Palestine reactions grab headlines, an equally powerful action and financial support for the humanitarian crisis are coming from the world of sports. They are not just making statements; they are contributing in a way that matters.

The war in Gaza erupted on October 7 escalating tensions in the region. The conflict has resulted in a significant loss of life and infrastructure damage on both sides. The four-day pause brokered by Qatar has not led to a decrease in tensions. Reports indicate that thousands of Palestinian and Israeli civilians, including children, have lost their lives, while tens of thousands have been injured. Millions of Palestinians have been displaced with nothing but rubble to return to. The conflict has drawn widespread international concern and calls for a sustainable resolution to bring lasting peace to the region.

Amid the recent conflict between Hamas and Israel, Tunisian tennis star Ons Jabeur has emerged as a symbol of compassion and generosity. She is ranked No. 6 by the WTA (Womens’ Tennis Association) and is the highest-ranked African and Arab tennis player in WTA history. Jabeur donated an undisclosed portion of her prize money from the WTA Finals to support relief efforts for the Palestinians affected by the crisis.

The tennis star’s gesture is not an isolated event. Jabeur’s announcement comes as part of a growing trend among athletes and celebreties worldwide, who are using their influence and resources to make a positive impact on the humanitarian crisis unfolding in the region. Her move reflects a broader commitment within the sports community to contribute meaningfully to global issues.

Athletes from various disciplines are stepping up to address the urgent humanitarian needs arising from the conflict. Players on Australia’s national soccer team have pledged to donate a part of their match fees from their first game in the World Cup qualifiers against Palestine, to humanitarian causes in Gaza. Furthermore, the players’ five-figure donation will be matched by Football Australia, the country’s governing body of soccer, futsal, and beach soccer.

In a similar vein, the Local Organizing Committee of the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023 has revealed its commitment to donate all the proceeds from ticket sales to support urgent relief initiatives in Palestine. The Committee announced this decision through their official X account by emphasizing the influential role of sport in bringing about social change beyond the football pitch. Chairing the Local Organizing Committee of the tournament, Qatar’s Emir, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, has endorsed the AFC’s commitment by publicly underlining the importance of demonstrating solidarity with the Palestinian people and providing essential financial support from ticketing sales.

Football star Mohamed Salah, the captain of the Egyptian national team is known for his outstanding career with the UK team Liverpool FC, having won 3 Premier League “Golden Boots” and becoming the highest paid player in Liverpool’s history. He is now also known for his humanitarian acts, having joined the ranks of athletes contributing to the cause. Salah has announced a donation to the people of Gaza, showcasing a commitment to address the ongoing humanitarian crisis. Several sources have described the donation as “significant”, but Rami al-Nazer, the Executive Director of the Egyptian Red Crescent Society, a member of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, noted that, respecting the request of the Egyptian player, he would not disclose the exact donation amount.

While Hollywood celebrities’ pro-Gaza statements dominate headlines, a more subtle but hands-on action in the form of financial contributions are coming from the world of sports. In the eyes of the broader public, sports may not be considered the primary focus, nor the most urgent concern when compared to the gravity of the humanitarian situation in the region. But football clubs, sports unions, and individual athletes are leveraging their positions and resources to make a meaningful difference in the lives of civilians affected by the crisis. These actions show how important the world of sport is in driving positive change beyond the boundaries of the playing field.

Picture: Ons Jabeur celebrates victory in her fourth round match Wimbledon Tennis Championships, Day 7, The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, UK, 03 July 2022 Wimbledon Tennis Championships. ©  IMAGO / Shutterstock Ella Ling
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