A Common Goal is a documentary film following the Arab players on the Israel National Football team. The film, like the others premiering at the Canadian Sport Film Festival, uses the fame and excitement of sport to analyze the deeper systematic issues they highlight. For A Common Goal, this involves looking at Israel’s history of discriminating against their Arab citizens as they became a Zionist, Jewish country. This history is shown through the number of Arab players on the Israel team which for the first time included seven Arab players and full simultaneous Arabian broadcast of the national games. However, despite this push towards change the country remains divided and the response of the Israeli football fans shows there is still a lot to be changed in Israel’s attitudes towards its religious minorities both on and off the pitch.
The ironic part of the hate and inequity shown towards the Arab-Muslim players from an athletics perspective is they are some of the best players on the team. The film dedicates a fair portion of the runtime to interviewing and talking with some of the players who have held successful careers in England, Australia, and other European countries. They’re a perfectly comfortable living their successful lives in their adopted countries as Muslims. Still, they choose to come back and try their best to lead the national squad to its highest heights despite the discrimination because it is their home. As we watch these talented footballers try to lead their squad through to the Euro 2020 tournament, we see how they continue to try and break new ground for equity in their country in pursuit of athletic greatness. While not breaking new ground in terms of it storytelling or filmmaking, A Common Goal is an engaging education on the problems in Israeli culture and should serve as an inspiration to any athlete who hasn’t felt loved by the country or people they play for.
A Common Goal premiered at CSFF ’22.