A first: Saudi soccer team to play against Palestinian Authority

For first time ever, Saudi national soccer team to play against PA team in Samaria, despite need to receive permission from Israel.

AFP ,

Soccer (illustration)
Soccer (illustration)
iStock

Saudi Arabia's national soccer team will play against the Palestinian Authority's team in Samaria on October 15, the kingdom's sports authority said Friday.

The game, due to take place in the city of Ramallah, would mark a change in policy for the Gulf state, which has previously played matches against the Palestinian Authority team in third countries.

"At the request of the brothers in the Palestinian federation, the Saudi Football Federation has agreed to play the team's first match in the Asian qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup against Palestine... on October 15... in Ramallah," the Saudi Sports Authority said on Twitter.

The decision is aimed at ensuring the Palestinian Authority team is "not deprived the chance to play at home and among its fans like other countries," it added.

Arab clubs and national teams have historically refused to play in Judea and Samaria, where the Palestinian Authority team plays, as it required them to apply for Israeli entry permits.

This was seen as breaching a decades-long Arab boycott of the Jewish state.

But in recent years either clubs or national teams from Iraq, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have all visited.

Others, including Egypt and Lebanon, still refuse.

Four years ago a similar game was ultimately played in Jordan after pressure on the Saudis not to enter Judea and Samaria.

Speaking Thursday, the head of the Palestinian football association Jibril Rajoub announced the Saudi team would arrive on October 13.

The game to be played at the Al-Ram Stadium, which is recognized by FIFA, would not breach boycott attempts, he said.




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