Palestine’s football association on Thursday said it had reluctantly agreed to play upcoming World Cup qualifying matches against Saudi Arabia and Malaysia at neutral venues, with the games set for Jordan.
The association however is also requesting a postponement of the match against Saudi Arabia set for November 9 to allow it more time to organise, association head Jibril Rajoub told reporters. FIFA on Wednesday ordered Palestine to play the matches at neutral venues because of security fears.
“I spoke to (Jordan’s) Prince Ali over the last two days and we will play the two matches in Jordan,” Rajoub said.
“We will ask to postpone the match (with Saudi Arabia) for logistical reasons.”
The Palestine-Malaysia match is scheduled for November 12.
Saudi Arabia said on Tuesday they had decided not to play the disputed qualifier in Ramallah. The teams played in Jeddah in June in the first of their two scheduled Asia zone World Cup qualifiers, with the Saudis winning 3-2.
That match was originally supposed to be played in Palestine, but Saudi Arabia had refused to travel to the Israeli-occupied West Bank, citing undefined “exceptional circumstances”.
The return leg was then set for October 13, again in the West Bank, but Saudi Arabia on September 23 demanded that it be played at a neutral ground.
— John McAuley (@_JMcAuley) November 4, 2015
That demand was accepted by the FIFA World Cup organising committee, but the Palestinian federation refused to accept the decision, saying it set a “dangerous precedent.”
Many Arab national teams refuse to play in the West Bank, saying it “normalises” Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory.
Israel controls all access to the Palestinian territories, and Saudi Arabia has no diplomatic relations with Israel.
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