Israeli football delegation’s visit to Bahrain sparks public outrage

Published October 22nd, 2016 - 10:17 GMT
Shaikh Ali said the visit “shouldn’t be taken politically or be misused to diminish the international achievement” of the Kingdom, which was trusted to host the congress among 209 member countries
Shaikh Ali said the visit “shouldn’t be taken politically or be misused to diminish the international achievement” of the Kingdom, which was trusted to host the congress among 209 member countries

The decision to host Israeli Football Association delegation in the Kingdom has sparked public outrage, DT News has learnt.

Many Bahraini activists and representatives described the recent announcement of hosting next congress of the International Federation of Association Football, FIFA, as an “incomplete joy.”

This came after the statements of Bahrain Football Association President Shaikh Ali bin Khalifa Al Khalifa during a recent press conference.

During the conference, he confirmed that a delegation representing the Israeli Football Association, which is a FIFA member, would take part in the annual FIFA congress.

Shaikh Ali said the visit “shouldn’t be taken politically or be misused to diminish the international achievement” of the Kingdom, which was trusted to host the congress among 209 member countries.

The BFA president urged to focus on the benefits the country will accomplish in the sports, tourism, economic, cultural and media sectors, as more than 3,000 international officials are expected to take part in the event.

Shaikh Ali added that the side events will include a charity all-star match that annually follows the meetings and features 25 world stars, and the meetings of the six continental associations.

“We shouldn’t limit all these gains to the entry of a three-member delegation representing the Israeli Football Association,” he stressed.

‘Blood is thicker’

Among the first to oppose to the announcement was the Parliament’s Foreign Affairs, Defence and National Security Committee Member Jamal Buhassan.

“The people of Bahrain received this news with great shock and resentment. It contradicts the Islamic and Arab principles. Football and FIFA meetings aren’t of more significance than our blood and the sanctities of the Islamic and Arab lands.”

Buhassan stressed on the importance of “respecting the feelings of the citizens and residents.”

He described Israel as “the nation’s first enemy, who usurped our sanctities and lands, and killed our Palestinian brothers and sisters.”

The lawmaker warned that BFA will be held constitutionally accountable if it insisted on allowing the Israeli delegation to enter the Kingdom.

Malaysia withdrew its nomination to host the event last August, considering the “sensitivity” of the matter. Malaysian Football Association Deputy President Affandi Hamzah expressed his country’s rejection of having the Israeli flag being waved on its soil. Moreover, he said his country was unable to provide visas to Israeli officials as it didn’t have diplomatic ties and could rile up local sensitivities.

By Muhannad Mansour

© 2019 News of Bahrain

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