Israeli football fans on Wednesday discovered their country was not on FIFA’s list of member states ahead of FIFA’s World Cup competition that will be held in Qatar later this year.
The official Qatar 2022 World Cup hospitality booking website lists only “Occupied Palestinian Territories” and does not list Israel at all. The list was later updated by changing it to “Palestine” after receiving mixed reactions on social media. The move was quickly welcomed by Palestinian activists and pro-Palestinian groups.
On the other hand, supporters of Israel and Zionists find it shameful and anti-Semitic. As reported by Israeli media, the decision sparked outrage even though a number of other countries such as Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia were also not listed on the site.
Winterhill hospitality, a Hong Kong-based company through its subsidiary MATCH Hospitality has the exclusive right as the only company entitled to offer Travel packages to Qatar as well as hospitality services for the World Cup including every exclusive ticket for every match of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022TM directly or through its appointed Sales Agents.
A spokesperson for MATCH Hospitality told The Jewish Chronicle that efforts had been made to locate and designate a sales agent in Israel but they were unable to locate any. It explained that this is not only the case in Israel but also in many dozens of other national territories that do not have exclusive representation.
Not including Israel as a member country makes it impossible for Israelis to buy tickets. However, Israeli fans were directed to buy tickets from the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Israel announced last June that its citizens could purchase tickets for the tournament and enter Qatar following an agreement with FIFA, making it the first time Israelis have been able to enter Qatar without using a foreign passport.
In accordance with its commitment to FIFA, Qatar is obliged to provide equal treatment to all countries in the world without omitting their names and flags. Qatar World Cup officials have also repeatedly confirmed that all citizens of the world are accepted during the tournament by applying for the Hayya card, a fan identification that also serves as an entry visa to the country.
However, it seems that Qatar prefers to condition its relations on the establishment of a Palestinian State in contrast to its Gulf Arab neighbors such as Bahrain and the UAE which recently signed normalization agreements with Israel.
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