by Kadeem Simmonds
Pakistan’s football coach Bahraini Mohammed Shamlan has been stuck in Amman, Jordan, for more than two days while he awaits a permit from Israel to allow him to join his team at the al-Nakba International Football Tournament in Palestine.
The tournament was set up as a way to commemorate the Nakba or “Day of the Catastrophe” as 700,000 Palestinians fled their homes in 1948.
Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah inaugurated the tournament by saying: “It is a very important means to strengthen the steadfastness of the Palestinian people by informing countries around the world about the suffering of the Palestinians.”
But before a ball had been kicked the whole Iraq team, players from Jordan, Sri Lanka and Mohammad Shamlam were denied by Israel to enter Palestine.
Mohammed Shamlan has already had to sit out Pakistan’s first match, a 3-0 victory over Sri-Lanka, despite the Pakistan Football Federation’s secretary Col Ahmed Yar Lodhi saying on Friday that “he is likely to be given permission by Sunday.”
Fifa has been informed of the situation and has promised to help Palestinian football to overcome any problems it may face involving the freedom of movement of its players and coaches.
Prince Nawaf bin Faisal, the executive president of the Union of Arab Football Associations said: “I have spoken to Fifa president Sepp Blatter and heads of regional football federations about the difficulties facing the Palestinian people in the sports arena.
“As a result, Fifa has agreed to discuss the issue at its next meeting.”
Lodhi also confirmed that the Asian Football Confederation and Fifa have been informed about the problem, which followed Fifa president Sepp Blatter’s promise to help Palestinian football overcome the many problems it faces, including freedom of movement for players and coaches.
“Israel will be either expelled or suspended from Fifa if it does not apologise for its action against Palestinians and provide guarantees,” added Prince Faisal.
In January, Israeli forces had shot and injured two Palestinian football players in the West Bank.
Jawhar Nasser Jawhar, 19, and Adam Abd al-Raouf Halabiya, 17, were shot while walking home from a training session in the Faisal al-Husseini Stadium in the town of al-Ram.
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