Soccer (illustration)
Soccer (illustration)iStock

Three Algerian players boycotted a friendly match of past soccer stars in Qatar because of the participation of Israeli coach Avraham Grant, who coached the opposing side, i24NEWS reported.

The FIFA Arab Legends kicked off against the FIFA World Legends in front of 3,500 fans at Al Thumama Stadium in the capital Doha on Friday.

The Algerian players — Rabah Madjer, Rafik Saïfi and Rafik Halliche —decided to withdraw from the friendly rather than play against someone with an Israeli nationality.

The match, which was won by the Arab side in penalty kicks after being down to the World athletes, was played a day before Saturday’s FIFA Arab Cup final between Tunisia and Algeria.

In July, an Algerian judoka, Fethi Nourine forfeited his place in the Tokyo Olympics after being told he would have to face Israeli judoka Tohar Butbul.

In response, the International Judo Federation (IJF) banned Nourine and his coach from participating in any activities or competitions for ten years.

Algeria, like many Muslim states, does not have relations with Israel. In April of 2018, an Algerian court sentenced eight people to 10 years in prison over espionage for Israel.

Athletes from countries that do not have ties with Israel regularly withdraw from sporting competitions in order to avoid facing Israelis.

The most famous incident in recent years was that of Iranian judoka Saeid Mollaei, who was forced to throw a match against Israelis, even after the International Judo Federation (IJF) and Iran reached an agreement which stipulates that Iran will no longer boycott competitions against Israelis.

Mollaei later travelled to Germany to begin the process of applying for asylum. He was recognized as a refugee in Germany in November of 2019 and recently won a silver medal at the Tel Aviv Grand Slam, where he represented Mongolia.