Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Palestinian official regrets Saudi withdrawal to play in Ramallah

The Palestinian Football Association (PFA) expressed on Tuesday deep regret for the withdrawal of the Saudi Arabian team to play against the Palestinian team in Ramallah on Thursday.

The football match between the two teams was part of the final qualifying towards the World Cup in 2018 and Asia Cup in 2019.

Deputy chairman of PFA Ibrahim Abu Saleem told Xinhua, "We are very sorry for the decision of the officials in the Saudi Arabian Football Federation to withdraw from confronting the Palestinian team."

"They (Saudis) are fully responsible for making such a decision," said Abu Saleem, adding "we really didn't wish to reach this stage because we offered options to the Saudi team to avoid passing through Israeli army checkpoints."

The PFA proposed to its Saudi counterpart to bring the team from Jordan to Ramallah via air to avoid passing through the Israeli crossings and checkpoints.

Abu Saleem said the PFA wasn't officially notified by the FIFA the withdrawal of the Saudi Arabian team, adding "on Wednesday, we are expecting the official announcement."

Al-Jazirah, a daily newspaper published in Saudi Arabia, unveiled earlier on Tuesday that the Saudi Arabian Football Federation decided not to play in Ramallah with its Palestinian counterpart in the fifth round of the World Cup final qualifying.

The report said that the Saudi federation will soon address an official letter to FIFA to explain why the decision was made, adding "the reason was security concerns due to the wave of tension that is flaring in the (Palestinian) territory."

FIFA had earlier denied a Saudi request to move the match to another country. However, the Saudi team justified the withdrawal from playing in Ramallah that "Saudi Arabia has no normalization ties with Israel."

  • Meanwhile, Sami Abu Zuhri, Hamas movement's spokesman in Gaza, said in an emailed press statement that his movement welcomed the Saudi decision to withdraw from playing with the Palestinian team on Thursday in Ramallah.

"Hamas appreciates the Saudi position to boycott any normalization with the Israeli occupation and expresses sorrow to see that some Palestinian bodies were exerting pressure against the Saudis in this respect," said Abu Zuhri.

  Xinhua -

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