Palestinian FA postpones cup final after Israel denies travel

The first leg of the final was played by Khadamat Rafah and Balata FC, ending in 1-1. (File/AFP)
Updated 03 July 2019

Palestinian FA postpones cup final after Israel denies travel

  • Israel only granted 4 travel permits out of total of 35 were requested
  • The officials did not clarify on what grounds they refused the permits

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories: The final of the Palestine Cup has been postponed after Israel denied Gaza-based players permits to travel, the Palestinian Football Association said on Wednesday.
The second leg of the final between Balata FC and Khadamat Rafah, the winners of the West Bank and Gaza leagues respectively, was due to take place on Wednesday, PFA vice president Susan Shalabi told AFP.
Gaza-based team Khadamat Rafah requested travel permits to the West Bank for 35 people, but Israel granted just four, three of them to club officials, Shalabi said.
“The Israelis are very adamant in their refusal,” she added, saying they had cited security concerns they did not specify.
A Khadamat Rafah official told AFP the club were still waiting for final decisions and were hopeful of securing more permits in the coming days.
“We are ready at any moment. If we got the permits now, in 30 minutes we will be there,” Hodaifa Lafi told AFP. “The game has to go ahead.”
She said it was impossible to discuss a date for the second leg until Israel granted more permits.
There was no immediate comment from COGAT, the Israeli defense ministry body responsible for Palestinian civil affairs.
The first leg, played on Sunday in Gaza, ended 1-1.
The West Bank and Gaza are separated by Israel, and Palestinians looking to travel between the two must apply for Israeli permits.
The tournament faces problems every year with permits for players to leave the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, which Israel has kept under crippling blockade for more than a decade.
The cup did not take place for 15 years largely over problems with Israeli permits, but resumed in 2015 after world football body FIFA intervened.
But the Palestinians have since accused FIFA of failing to follow its own rules after it decided to pursue no further action against Israel over football teams based in settlements in the occupied West Bank.
“The way FIFA are dealing with the Israelis is encouraging them to act with impunity,” Shalabi said.

Princess becomes first Saudi woman to head sports club

Updated 22 July 2019

Princess becomes first Saudi woman to head sports club

  • Princess Nourah thanked her hosts for the hospitality and outlined her ambitions for the team’s future

RIYADH: Princess Nourah bint Saad has officially become the first Saudi woman to be president of a sports club. Italian news outlet Corriere Della Sera reported recently that the princess had successfully acquired the Umbrian football club Spoleto.

Speaking at a press conference, the princess thanked her hosts for the hospitality and outlined her ambitions for the team’s future. 

“Football is a family passion, and Italian football is followed all over the world. This is why I chose to invest in Umbria,” she said. 

Princess Nourah chose the team after considering several aspects. “Spoleto is a small, amateur football organization where it is possible to work with the aim of growing and aiming for promotion. But we cannot fail to consider the value and beauty of the city of Spoleto, which is famous throughout the world.” Spoleto is a member of Serie D of the Italian non-professional football association, Lega Nazionale Dilettanti.  The association represents more than 12,000 football players and 400 football teams across Italy and is considered the fourth-ranked league in the country. Under the princess’s presidency, the team aims to ascend to Serie C in the near future, and further in the long term.

Spoleto announced that they have formally registered for the Excellence Umbria 2019/2020 championship and the Regional Junior Championship 2019/2020.

This purchase marks the Saudi royal family’s second venture into sports club ownership. Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ad co-owns English Premier League football club Sheffield United.