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Algerian Players Boycott Soccer Match with Israeli Coach

avatar by i24 News

People take part in a protest demanding immediate political change in Algiers, Algeria March 12, 2019. Photo: REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra.

i24 News – Three Algerian players boycotted a friendly match of past soccer stars in Qatar because of the participation of an Israeli, Avraham Grant, who coached the opposing side.

The FIFA Arab Legends kicked off against the FIFA World Legends in front of 3,500 fans at Al Thumama Stadium in the capital Doha on Friday.

“Tonight we unite the Arab world with the entire world,” FIFA President Gianni Infantino announced to the crowd before the start of the match. “We are all one team!”

However, the Algerian players — Rabah Madjer, Rafik Saïfi and Rafik Halliche — did not share in that spirit of unity as they decided to withdraw from the friendly rather than play against someone with an Israeli nationality.

The match, which was won by the Arab side in penalty kicks after being down to the World athletes, was played a day before Saturday’s FIFA Arab Cup final between Tunisia and Algeria.

The FIFA Arab Cup is taking place in Qatar a year before the Gulf state is set to become the first Middle Eastern country to host the FIFA World Cup.

Qatar has not established diplomatic relations with Israel and the country’s foreign minister recently said that they don’t intend to until the Palestinian issue is resolved.

Algeria also doesn’t have diplomatic ties with the Jewish state and is a vocal supporter of the Palestinians.

In September, Algerian judoka Fethi Nourine was banned from competition for 10 years by the International Judo Federation after his withdrawal from the Tokyo Olympics to avoid a potential bout against an Israeli opponent.

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