Palestinian footballers praise Saudi Arabia decision to play match in West Bank

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Palestinian national footballers praised on Thursday Saudi Arabia’s decision to play an upcoming match in the occupied Palestinian territories, the first time the teams will face off in the West Bank.

Palestinian national football player Ahmad Qatamesh said the decision by Saudi Arabia to play in the West Bank “is a good step for us as Palestinians.”

“It will be an amazing feeling to play for our fans on our land, to show the world we are here to stay,” said Qatamesh in an exclusive interview with Al Arabiya English. Qatamesh was born and raised in Tulkarm refugee camp, the second largest refugee camp in the West Bank.

Teammate Yaser Hamed Mayor said that the October 15 match in the Palestinian town of al-Ram will be “historic.”

“We are happy to be able to play at home with our fans, receiving the support of our people,” said Mayor in an exclusive interview with Al Arabiya English.

Saudi Arabia’s Sports Authority announced Thursday that its national football team will play the upcoming World Cup qualifying match against the Palestinian national team in al-Ram’s Faisal Al-Husseini International Stadium. Past matches between the two countries’ football teams have taken place in third countries.

Saudi Arabia’s Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisal, chairman of the country’s Sports Authority, said the step comes in response to the request of the Palestinian Federation and their desire to host the game.

“At the request of the brothers in the Palestinian Federation, the Saudi Football Federation agrees to play the first team match in the Asian qualifiers in the city of Ramallah in Palestine,” Saudi Arabia’s Sports Authority said on Thursday in a statement on Twitter.

The decision was also made to ensure that the Palestinian team is “not deprived of playing the game at home among its fans like other countries.”

Palestinian leadership said that buses will transport the Saudi team from Amman Airport, which they will arrive to on October 13, to Ramallah in a special arrangement.

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