PA soccer cup goes ahead

Palestinian Cup in soccer to be decided Tuesday. It was postponed when Israel refused to let players in from Gaza due to security concerns.

Ben Ariel,

Soccer (illustration)
Soccer (illustration)
iStock

The Palestinian Cup in soccer will be decided on Tuesday night in the rescheduled final between Hevron's Ahly al-Khalil and Shabab Khan Yunis, the Palestinian Football Association (PFA) confirmed Monday, according to AFP.

The match had originally been slated to take place on Saturday, but it was postponed when Israel did not allow several players and a coach from Gaza to enter Judea and Samaria due to security concerns.

Israel's refusal resulted in the head of the Palestinian soccer federation, Jibril Rajoub, filing a complaint against Israel with the international soccer governing body, FIFA.

The biggest match of the year in the Palestinian Authority-assigned territories took place last Tuesday, when Ahly al-Khalil won the first leg 1-0 in Khan Yunis.

Now the Shabab players will have the chance to turn the tie around on Tuesday, with the winners of the final to qualify for next season's AFC Cup, Asia's premier club football tournament.

Kifah al-Sharif, the president of Ahly al-Khalil, claimed the Israeli authorities had prevented eight of the club's players from entering Gaza for the first leg of the tournament.

The PFA said on Monday that FIFA president Gianni Infantino has taken a close

interest in the case. Israeli authorities did not comment.

Sunday's move was not the first time that Rajoub has turned to FIFA to take action against Israel. In 2015,he campaigned to have Israel suspended from FIFA because, he claimed, Israel was restricting the movement of Palestinian Arab players.

However, he withdrew the bid at the 11th hour, sparking anger among Palestinian Arabs, some of whom have demanded Rajoub’s resignation.

And, just last week, Rajoub demanded that Jewish soccer clubs from Judea and Samaria be expelled from the Israeli league because they are "operating on Palestinian land". A leftist group which backs Rajoub's request said that if these Israeli teams aren't expelled from the Israeli league the entire Israeli league may find itself expelled from FIFA.

Rajoub, who is a senior member of Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mamhmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement, is known for his inciting statements against Israel, which include claiming in a television interview that Nazi leader Adolf Hitler could have learned from Israel about extermination camps.

He has suggested in the past that Israel "should be removed", and has also supported Hamas's threats to kidnap IDF soldiers on PA TV.




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