Oman's University futsal team disqualified after refusing to play against Israel
Oman's team was disqualified from the World University Futsal Championship, held recently in Portugal with support from FIFA, after it failed to turn up for a match against Israel, a top official has confirmed.
Salim al Araimi, chairman of Oman Committee for University Sports (OCUS), told Muscat Daily, “The match against Israel was the concluding playoff game to determine the last two places - 13th and 14th place. I had a meeting with my players and officials before the match and it was decided not to play. The team did not turn up for the match and expectedly, the organising committee disqualified us.”
Explaining the reason for the pullout, Araimi, who was with the team in Braga, said, “There is no previous history of any sporting contests between Oman and Israel national teams. The match in Braga involved [the] Oman university team and since we do not have any past record of playing against them (Israel), the decision not to play was taken. We also considered the political sensitivities involving the Arabs and Israelis and the current situation in the Middle East. We accepted the organisers' verdict to disqualify the Oman team.”
Futsal is a mainly indoor variation of football with five players in each team, and Oman was participating in the 13th edition of the world university championship from August 18-25. Oman's match against Israel was held on the final day of the tournament. The team had lost all its previous matches, going down to Brazil, Kazakhstan and Spain.
Araimi said that he would clarify Oman's stand during the extraordinary general meeting of FISU, the world governing body for university sports, to be held later this month in Kazan, Russia.
Incidentally, Oman's No 1 tennis player Fatma al Nabhani was drawn to play against Israel's Shahar Peer in the opening round of the Dubai Duty Free WTA Championships in February. She played the match but lost to her higher-ranked rival 3-6, 1-6.