Middle East

In first, UAE team to participate in Israeli-hosted football tournament

It will be first time an Emirati football team visits Israel, coming in wake of 2 countries signing normalization deal last year

11.12.2021
In first, UAE team to participate in Israeli-hosted football tournament

ISTANBUL

In a historic first under a controversial normalization deal, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) youth football team is set to play a friendly against Israel in a winter tournament on Sunday.

Organized and hosted by Israel, the tournament is set to start on Dec. 12 and will see the participation of the Russian and German youth teams.

“The UAE youth team landed at Israel and was warmly received by the CEO of the Israel Football Association (IFA), Yossi Sharabi,” the IFA said in Twitter on Friday.

The UAE Football Association (UAEFA) said the Gulf state’s participation in the tournament follows an agreement signed between the UAE and Israeli federations in December 2020 in Dubai.

It will be the first time an Emirati football team visits Israel, a development following Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv signing a controversial US-sponsored agreement to normalize their diplomatic relations last year.

The UAE was joined by three other Arab states – Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan – in normalizing relations with Israel in what came to be known as the Abraham Accords. Palestinians blasted the move as a “stab in the back."

*Writing by Ibrahim Mukhtar

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