In my highschool days in Saudi Arabia, whenever I mentioned the national team to other diaspora Palestinian friends, the majority would respond, “whats the point? they’re just going to lose anyways”. All in all I just had a couple of buddies who I would get together with occasionally to watch matches, but even then, I would watch them on my own mostly as the vast majority of Palestinians around me had little to no interest in the national team. They were too starstruck by the glamour of European football to pay attention to Asian Cup qualifiers. Heck, even local Saudi football was more interesting to some.
This explains why the national team played in virtually empty stadiums when hosting ‘home’ matches in neighboring countries. Even in neighboring Jordan where an estimated 70% of the population is of Palestinian descent, the Qweisma stadium in the suburbs of Amman wouldn’t attract more than a few hundred supporters. Many of them Wehdat fans from the refugee camps. An example of the grim empty stands:
As I recall, the turnout of Palestinian supporters in the 2002 Pan Arab Cup was the best out of all matches away from home. There was a sizable amount of fans cheering on Nicola Shahwan and his squad and a commentator noted with amusement the picnic atmosphere that was enjoyed by families who had come(as shown by the TV cameras).
That was an exception rather than a rule. Sitting in your living room watching the National Team play in empty 25,000 seater stadiums made you feel somewhat alone in your support.
The internet changed that for me after I discovered kooora-Palestine
. I finally had a place to voice my opinions with other people who gave a damn and read what others thought. The vast majority of the members of kooora-Palestine reside in the Palestinian territories according to the locations they indicate, and if we should take this as a sample, then we can conclude(as expected) that the national team enjoys most of its support in Palestine.
Palestinians abroad, however, have made significant contributions to the national team. Tayseer Barakat, a Palestinian businessman from Kuwait(?), generously supported the team financially and arguably kept it on its feet until 2007 when he decided to start focusing his contributions on humanitarian efforts instead. Not to mention all the foregn-based players who have represented the Palestinian colours.