Israeli court prevents Palestinian Cup soccer rematch

The two teams drew 1:1 in their last game in Gaza on June 30 - the club who won the playoff was lined up to represent Palestine in the Asian Champions League.

September 24, 2019 16:43
1 minute read.
The Palestinian national soccer team

The Palestinian national soccer team. (photo credit: REUTERS)

The Jerusalem District Court has upheld the decision of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) which blocked Khadamat Rafah and 23 players from the team from competing in a Palestinian Cup playoff match in the West Bank originally scheduled for July 3.

For more than two months, Israel has prevented Khadamat Rafah from traveling to the West Bank for the final rematch against FC Balata, a team from the Balata refugee camp. Sporting events are listed in Israel’s narrow criteria for eligibility for travel permits.

The two teams drew 1:1 in their first game in Gaza on June 30. The club who won the playoff was lined up to represent Palestine in the Asian Champions League.

Three days before their planned rematch, the club was informed that only four of the 35 applications had been approved. Only one of those approved was a player. The other 31 applicants – comprising of players and members of the coaching team and executives – were denied entry on “security grounds.”

The match was then rescheduled for September 25, and new applications together with documents were sent to COGAT on August 21. On Monday, COGAT decided that only 12 members of the club would be allowed to travel – including only five players.

Gisha, an Israeli human rights organization, petitioned the Jerusalem District Court last week, requesting the court to demand travel approval from COGAT. The petition highlighted that the Palestine Cup is a FIFA-recognized tournament, and by putting off the rematch further, would put the winning club’s entry into the Asian Champions League in jeopardy.

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