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In First, UAE Soccer Team Set to Compete in Israeli Tournament Next Month

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Soccer fans carrying an Israeli flag at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. Photo: Reuters/Henry Romero

An official national team from the United Arab Emirates will compete in a soccer tournament in Israel for the first time in history, the Israel Football Association (IFA) announced on Sunday.

The UAE national youth team will participate in Israel’s international winter youth tournament, named after former IFA chairman Gavri Levy, set to take place Dec. 12-17. National youth teams from Russia and Germany will also be competing.

The UAE Football Association (UAEFA) confirmed that its team arrived in Israel on Sunday morning. UAEFA President Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid Al Nuaimi may also visit the Jewish state ahead of the tournament as head of the Emirati delegation, the IFA said.

IFA Chairman Oren Hasson, said, “[Sunday] morning’s good news is unparalleled and is the fruit of a warm and fruitful relationship between the two associations … Many good people on both sides have worked for this moment and for the deepening of cooperation in a variety of fields, believing that football is a wonderful means of bringing the two countries closer together and strengthening them.”

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He added, “After quite a few years, the tournament will include four teams this time and beyond football there will be significant other activities in cultural and historical spectacles. We will proudly wave the flags of the United Arab Emirates, Germany and Russia alongside our blue and white flag.”

The contest will mark the first visit of an Arab team in Israel. After the signing of the Israel–UAE normalization agreement in 2020, the UAEFA and the IFA signed a collaboration agreement in December in Dubai, in a ceremony also attended by FIFA President Gianni Infantino.

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