RIYADH: The Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) on Friday said the Saudi national team will play against the Palestinian team on October 15 at the Martyr Faisal Housseini Stadium in Ramallah, Palestine, as part of the Asian World Cup qualifiers, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.
SPA quoted Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al Faisal, chairman of the Saudi General Sport Authority (GSA), as saying the decision was in response to the request of the Palestinian Football Federation of its desire to host the game.
The Palestinian federation wanted “to ensure that the Palestinian team is not deprived of playing the game at home among its fans like in other countries, and as part of abiding by the agenda of the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) and ensure equal opportunity for both team,” said the report.
The Saudi game in the West Bank would mark a change in policy for the Gulf state, which has previously played matches against Palestine in third countries.
The Palestinian football association earlier announced the forthcoming visit of the Saudi national team on Thursday as the first Moroccan football team played in the occupied Palestinian territories.
But 28 fans of the Raja Casablanca club were denied entry to the occupied West Bank by “Israeli occupation forces,” Morocco’s MAP news agency said, quoting the country’s embassy in Jordan.
Arab clubs and national teams have historically refused to play in the West Bank, where the Palestinian national team plays, as it required them to apply for Israeli entry permits.
Thursday evening’s match kicked off at 1600 GMT, with Raja Casablanca eventually beating Palestinian team Hilal Al-Quds 2-0 in the Arab Champions Cup.
The Moroccan giants had won the first leg 1-0 at home, with the team’s supporters waving Palestinian flags and chanting songs supportive of the cause.