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'There's no Israel, only Palestine': Saudi fan tells Israel reporter he is not welcome at Qatar World Cup

Fans hold a Flag of Palestine with Free Palestine written on it during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group D match between Tunisia and Australia at Al Janoub Stadium in Al Wakrah, Qatar. [Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images]
Fans hold a Flag of Palestine with Free Palestine written on it during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 at Al Janoub Stadium in Al Wakrah, Qatar. [Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images]

In the latest incident of Arab football fans snubbing Israeli reporters covering the 2022 FIFA World Cup at Qatar, a Saudi Arabian supporter was filmed telling Israeli reporter Moav Vardi of broadcaster Kan 11 that he was "not welcome" in the Gulf state following the kingdom's two-goal defeat by Poland on Saturday.

Upon discovering the reporter was Israeli, the Saudi fan told him: "It is Palestine, there is no Israel. Go please. You are not welcome here. This is Qatar, this is our country – you are not welcome here. There is only Palestine. There is no Israel."

Others can be heard saying "Free Palestine" in the brief encounter which has gone viral on social media.

Reporters from both Kan and Channel 12 TV have previously told Reuters that they had been mostly snubbed. Footage circulating online has already shown two Saudi fans, a Qatari shopper, Lebanese fans and a Tunisian declining being interviewed by Israeli reporters. Other fans have also been seen waving Palestinian flags.

Despite not officially recognising Israel, Doha has permitted some Israeli journalists to directly fly to the host nation as part of a FIFA-brokered arrangement. In the build-up to the tournament, Israeli media had hoped Qatar would join the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco in joining the Abraham Accords normalisation agreement, in addition to Jordan and Egypt in recognising the occupation state.

Saudi Arabia shocked the world by causing one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history after defeating favourites Argentina 2-1 after trailing in the first half. Despite largely out-performing the Polish side, the Green Falcons went on to losing 2-0. Saudi Arabia now must beat Mexico to stand a chance in progressing to the second round.

READ: Qataris wear pro-Palestinian armbands amid World Cup symbol row

Categories
Europe & RussiaFIFAInternational OrganisationsIsraelMiddle EastPalestinePolandQatarSaudi Arabia
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