DUBAI: The official website for booking match tickets and hospitality packages at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 lists Palestine as a country instead of Israel, according to media reports.
Israelis wishing to make bookings to travel to Doha for matches have to choose Palestine as their territory instead of Israel.
Winterhill Hospitality is the exclusive sales agent of match hospitality in Asia and Oceania territories for official hospitality programs.
Palestinian news agency WAFA said the previous listing read “Palestinian Territory, Occupied” before being changed to “Palestine.”
Arab football fans took to social media to hail the move, which was described as a “bold and rightful step” for recognizing Palestine as a country on the list instead of Israel.
Israeli media first raised the issue on Wednesday as Israel was not listed in the section for Europe either.
“Thank you to Qatar for crossing out the name of Israel from the list of the countries of the World Cup. Salute to the Government of Qatar,” read one tweet.
Lebanese football fan Ali Halawi said he was thrilled to see an Arab country supporting Palestinians.
“Qatar has decided not to recognize that Israel exists and not to grant them the right to join an Arabic event, just like when there’s a foreign event happening and organizers decide not to allow whoever they want not to attend,” he told Arab News.
He said the myth of not involving politics in sports had fallen, especially since FIFA and UEFA were permitting teams, clubs, and fans to show solidarity with Ukraine in its war with Russia.
“The international football governing body should do the same since Russia is perceived as an aggressor and occupier, then so is Israel,” concluded Halawi.
But Iraqi Ali Ebrahim said there was no issue for him as a football fan as neither team had qualified for the tournament.
“It only matters (to) the fans of those countries who qualified to the big event,” he told Arab News, saying the step was “nothing more than a moral victory to Palestinians.”
A US-Palestinian lawyer who requested to be identified as Jamal said the listing was an “appreciated move” that indirectly recognized Palestinians’ rights and their ongoing fight for a free land.
“Not that this will change anything, but it’s an emotional and moral victory. I love football and hate politics, so I’d rather not say much and enjoy the game,” he added.
Samer Osman said he did not like to involve sport in any political issue and was unsure if the move would improve the quality of life for Palestinians in the West Bank or Gaza.