Where will Palestine play Saudi Arabia?
That PFA President Jibril Rajoub has delivered diametrically opposed messages in relation to Palestine’s upcoming World Cup qualifier.
Earlier this month, Rajoub appeared on the popular Saudi sports talkshow Al-Dawry ma’ Waleed [The League with Waleed] and stated the following:
“Well let me tell you. It was great that we could take the learnings from the last time [the two sides met in 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying]….. Look there was a bit of a mixup…. As Palestinians we cannot take a step that would embarrass our Saudi brothers…. This time there was a call from the Saudi Federation President to solve this issue from the get-go….
All the possibilities are open…. We want to preserve the right to host games but we also want to preserve unity…. We also don’t want to put Saudi Arabia in a sensitive spot in regards to their stance. That said, we have guarantees from HRH Price Ali that there will be coordination so that the Saudis can get on a bus in Amman and drive directly to Ramallah without passing a single Israeli soldier.
This would be a great day- Saudi Arabia gives and has given so much to Palestine…. It would be a positive to show what it means to play in Palestine…. That said, if our Saudi brothers find it too difficult there will be no problem, in the spirit of brotherhood…. We will solve this problem with
Prince [Ali] and [SFF President] Yasser [Almishael]”
While Rajoub went to great lengths to make no definitive statement on the issue, he was a lot more aggressive in his position when addressing the crowd at the PFA Awards ceremony this past Sunday [1:10 of the video]:
“The League will not be suspended, competitions for all age groups will continue, and we will not give up the right to play on our home ground. We will not play outside Palestine, and we will only play in Palestine”
In the 48 hours since his statement neither the Palestine FA nor the Saudi FF have issued statements regarding the matter. Prince Ali bin Hussein the President of the West Asian Football Federation- which counts both Palestine and Saudi Arabia as its members- has also been silent on the matter.
At the time of writing, the Asian Football Confederation shows Al-Ram as being the location for the upcoming qualifier.