FIFA has agreed to let thousands of Palestinians and Israelis attend the World Cup in Qatar via direct flights from Tel Aviv to Doha. However, Qatari officials have reaffirmed that the move does not change the Gulf country’s stance against normalisation with Israel.
Arab football fans in Doha are shunning Israeli journalists who approached them for interviews at the 2022 Qatar World Cup, according to videos circulating on social media platforms.
Lebanese, Saudi and Qatari fans were approached by reporters from Israeli TV channels, according to the videos. The fans immediately refused to be interviewed once they discovered the identity of the reporters.
Channel 12’s reporter admitted that “almost all the Arab fans we meet and introduce ourselves to generally refuse to speak to us. But there was a group of Lebanese young men, whose attitude changed 180 degrees the moment we told them that we are from Israel”, Press TV reported, citing Israeli media.
A video showed Lebanese fans immediately walking away as soon as the reporter informed them he was from Israel. One of the fans turned back to the reporter to add: “There is no such thing as Israel. It is Palestine. Israel does not exist.”
Another video showed two Saudi fans refusing to speak to a reporter who told them he was Israeli.
Earlier, a video circulated online showed a Qatari citizen refusing to be interviewed by an Israeli channel in Souq Waqif in Doha.
Palestinian activist Muna al-Kurd warned fans in Qatar that Israeli reporters may conceal their media logos to hide their identity in an attempt to get some interviews from Arab fans.
She urged fans through an Instagram story on Sunday to always ask for the identity of the channel when approached by reporters.
This is not the first time Arabs have shown solidarity with Palestine in sporting events.
Nadia Fawaz, a junior Lebanese chess champion, refused to play an Israeli opponent at the 28th Abu Dhabi International Chess Festival in the United Arab Emirates in August.
Around the same time, Iraqi tennis stars Nasr Mahdi and Mohammad al-Mahdi withdrew from the Bucharest Open Wheelchair Tennis Tournament 2022 in Romania to avoid competing against Israelis.
In July, Jordanian taekwondo fighter Maysir al-Dahamsheh refused to play a match against an Israeli opponent at the 2022 World Taekwondo Cadet and Junior Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria.
The Palestinian flag has been flying alongside supporters from various nations and backgrounds over the course of the last few days in Qatar.
Qatari locals and fans who travelled to the Persian Gulf state gathered at Lusail Boulevard on Saturday night to make their presence known.
“Palestine is a liberation project that we are seeking to complete, God willing,” one Palestinian supporter told Doha News on Saturday.
“From Doha, from Qatar from the place of the World Cup, Palestine is present. Long Live Palestine,” another fan added.
More than 8,000 Palestinians were granted permits to attend the World Cup in Qatar.
Palestine will be on Doha’s “conscience” throughout the World Cup, according to Lolwah Al-Khater, the assistant foreign minister of Qatar, who made this declaration on Friday.
“We expect to celebrate [the World Cup] with thousands of our brothers and sisters from Palestine and we affirm here that their cause and our just cause in Palestine will always remain present in our conscience,” Al-Khater said.