FIFA bows to Saudi Pressure, moves Palestine’s next two home matches

Money still buying influence at FIFA. 

From’s Website:

“The Emergency Bureau for the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, composed of chairman Shk. Salman Bin Ebrahima Al Khalifa (Bahrain), deputy chairman Juan Ángel Napout (Paraguay) and Michel D’Hooghe (Belgium), has decided that Palestine’s upcoming 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Saudi Arabia and Malaysia, scheduled to take place in Palestine, both need to be played on neutral ground. 

The decision followed a meeting held in Palestine yesterday between FIFA’s security officer and local authorities, after which the Palestinian government confirmed that it could no longer guarantee the safety and security around the matches in question.” 
This marks the third time Palestine’s home fixture against Saudi Arabia has been moved. Originally slated for the first match day on June 11th,  the PFA agreed at the last minute to swap home fixtures only to have Saudi Arabia demand to have the match be played on neutral ground with the second game fast approaching.

More after the jump…

Saudi Arabia seemed to have clinched a decision to move the match on October 13th to a neutral ground only for FIFA to invalidate its decision and delay the match. Late last month, FIFA announced that the game would go ahead in Palestine on November 5th. 
As late as last night, news outlets were reporting that Saudi Arabia had formally withdrawn from the match. It was expected that FIFA would award a 3-0 win to Palestine while levying heavy fines on the Saudi Federation- there was also an outside chance that Saudi Arabia could have seen their campaign suspended as a result of political interference. 
This sudden turn of events comes after FIFA’s Nigerian match commissioner determined that Palestine could not guarantee security for the games against Saudi Arabia and Malaysia. 
Palestine’s upcoming game against Saudi Arabia has been pushed back (once again) to November 9th. Palestine will have a short turn around before facing Malaysia three days later on November 12th. The location of both these matches have yet to be announced. 

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