FIFA postpones Palestine-Saudi Arabia WC qualifier

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Shukriya Pakistan

FIFA have postponed next week’s 2018 World Cup qualifier between Palestine and Saudi Arabia until a decision is made on where the match between the two nations should be played.

A meeting was held at FIFA headquarters in Zurich on Tuesday between Palestinian Football Federation president Jibril Rajoub and his Saudi counterpart Ahmed Eid Al Harbi.

“It was decided to postpone the match until the ongoing process has been concluded,” a FIFA spokesperson told AFP on Wednesday.

The fixture, set for October 13, had been scheduled to take place in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, but Saudi Arabia on September 23 demanded that it be played on neutral ground.

That demand was accepted by the World Cup 2018 organising committee, chaired by UEFA president Michel Platini.

But the Palestinian Federation refused to accept, saying: “Depriving Palestine of the right to play at home is a dangerous precedent and impossible to accept under any conditions.”

The teams met each other in Jeddah in June, with the Saudis winning 3-2.

That match was actually supposed to be played in Palestine but Saudi Arabia had refused to travel to the West Bank, citing undefined “exceptional circumstances”.

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 the Jewish state.

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