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February 4, 2021 12:02 pm

UAE, Israeli Soccer Clubs to Play First Friendlies Since Normalization

avatar by Israel Hayom /

Maccabi Haifa players celebrate a goal during the Israeli Premier League match between Beitar Jerusalem and Maccabi Haifa at the Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem on July 7, 2020. Photo: Flash90. – United Arab Emirates soccer club Al-Ain will play Israel’s Maccabi Haifa in two friendly matches, the Emirati club announced on Wednesday.

The announcement was made during the virtual signing of a deal between the two clubs, according to French news agency AFP.

The agreement “will consolidate the policy of bridge-building and cooperation between the two major clubs in various fields including marketing, technical cooperation, investment, commercial activities, media and sport,” said Al-Ain investment club chairman Mohamed Thaaloob.

The clubs, which the report noted are two of the most successful in their respective leagues, agreed to stage two friendlies, the first to be hosted by Al-Ain and the second to be held in Haifa at an unspecified future date.

The Emirati and Israeli football federations signed a cooperation agreement in October, a first between the two nations, intended to promote closer sporting ties.

A month before that agreement, Emirati club Al-Nasr signed Israeli player Diaa Saba, who is of Palestinian heritage, making him the first Israeli player to sign for a club in an Arab league, according to AFP.

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

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