Iraq to play their first football match in Israeli-occupied West Bank against Palestinian national squad
The Iraqi side will face off against Palestine in a first for the Arab side, with most Muslim-majority countries choosing to not visit the West Bank, which is occupied by Israel.
Baghdad: Iraq's national football team is set to make its first-ever visit to the Israeli-occupied West Bank on Thursday, where it will face off against the Palestinian national squad, a team official said on Monday.
Iraq fought in wars against Israel in 1948, 1967 and 1973 and has still technically yet to make peace with the Jewish state. Most teams in Arab countries — many of which do not recognise Israel — refuse to visit the Palestinian territories because Israel control's the West Bank's borders and blockades the Gaza Strip.
But Palestinian leaders have for years called on Arab countries to send sporting and cultural delegations to help ease their isolation. The friendly match with Iraq will be held on Saturday in Ramallah, the West Bank's administrative centre.
"A Palestinian delegation will wait for the Iraqi team in Amman and escort it to Ramallah," Iraqi team official Basil Gorgis told AFP. The Palestinian team, a FIFA member since 1998, squared off in May against the Iraqi squad in the southern Iraqi city of Basra.
The bid is set to be fronted by three former players in Germany's Silvia Neid, Femke Maes from Belgium and ex-Dutch midfielder Sarina Wiegman.
FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifiers: Lionel Messi's first-half penalty fires Argentina to 1-0 win over Ecuador in opening game
The breakthrough came after a reckless challenge by Pervis Estupinan sent Lucas Ocampo sprawling in the box, with Messi stepping up to lash home his 71st international goal.
FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifiers: Neymar hat-trick powers Brazil to victory over Peru; Argentina edge Bolivia
Peru twice took the lead through Andre Carrillo and a heavily deflected strike from Renato Tapia, but two controversial Neymar penalties, an injury time third and a close range strike from Richarlison maintained the Selecao's winning start to qualifying for Qatar 2022.