Israel bans Gaza, West Bank footballers from playing in Palestinian Cup

Ramallah (Palestine): The Palestinian Football Association (PFA) postponed the Palestinian Football Cup final after Israel banned West Bank footballers from playing in Gaza.

The PFA said in a statement on Sunday that the match was scheduled to be played between West Bank city Hebron Sports and the Gaza-based al-Shuja’eya in Gaza, reports Xinhua.

“The association decided to annul the match after the Israeli authorities banned the football players in Hebron to cross from the West Bank to Gaza through Israel,” said the statement.

The PFA statement also said that the Israeli authorities also refused to let the football team of the Gaza-based al-Shuja’eya sports club to cross from Gaza to West Bank through Israel to play the final.

“The PFA has immediately addressed urgent letters of protest to the international football federation (FIFA) and its executive board as well as to the European Union and as well as the Arab and Asian football unions,” it said.

The statement added that the Israeli measures and practices on the ground urge the sports international community to bear its responsibility and help the Palestinian sports persons to get their legitimate rights. The statement reiterated that PFA will follow up the case of banning the two teams from travelling “to unveil the haphazard measures against Palestinian sports”.

The teams were scheduled to play two matches; a first and second leg to decide the winner of the Palestinian Cup. It is the first time in so many years that the PFA launches a race on the Palestinian Football Cup between Gaza and West Bank teams.

The Palestinians are complaining that Israel is imposing restrictions on their free movement, mainly sports men and footballers. Israel always says it bans the free movement of the Palestinians for security reasons.