World, Sports, Middle East

Saudi football team to face Palestine in West Bank

Move marks change in Saudi policy as Kingdom previously played against Palestine in 3rd country not to seek Israeli permit

04.10.2019
Saudi football team to face Palestine in West Bank

RIYADH

Saudi Arabia will play against Palestine for the Asian Cup qualifiers in the occupied West Bank this month, the Kingdom’s sports authority said on Friday.

The move marked a change in the policy of the Saudi Arabia, since the Kingdom, and other Arab countries, previously played their games against Palestine in a third country as it requires to apply for Israeli entry permits to play in Palestine.

The qualifiers match for the 2022 World Cup is set to be played in Ramallah on Oct. 15.

Saudi Arabia said it agreed to play in Palestine upon the request of the latter.

The football authority of Saudi Arabia said on Twitter: "At the request of our Palestinian brothers, 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 Oct. 15... in Ramallah."

Jibril Rajoub, head of the Palestinian Football Federation, dubbed the Saudi decision “historical” and thanked Saudi Arabia.

Four years ago, Jordan and Egypt hosted similar games as a third country upon Palestine’s request, while Arab clubs and national teams have historically refused to come to Palestine under Israeli permit.

Yet, in recent years, some Arab countries including Iraq, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have played against Palestine in the occupied West Bank.

*Ahmed Asmar contributed to this report from Ankara

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