StandWithUs urges Fifa to ensure Israelis can attend 2022 World Cup in Qatar

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StandWithUs urges Fifa to ensure Israelis can attend 2022 World Cup in Qatar

The non-profit stepped up pressure on the football association to ensure Israeli fans will be allowed into the Gulf state

The 2010 World Cup Asian Qualifiers match between Qatar and Japan in Doha, Qatar.
The 2010 World Cup Asian Qualifiers match between Qatar and Japan in Doha, Qatar.

A nonprofit stepped up pressure on FIFA this week to ensure Israeli fans wishing to attend the football World Cup in 2022 in Qatar will be allowed into the Gulf state.

Since Qatar was awarded the right to host the tournament in 2010, it has pledged to welcome Israeli fans and supply kosher food to observant Jews.

Hassan Al Thawadi, head of Qatar’s 2022 World Cup committee, told the New York Times in 2017 that it would welcome Israeli visitors. “Everyone is welcome. It’s a simple answer: everybody is welcome,” he told the newspaper.

But Qatar, which does not recognise Israel, has yet to issue clear travel guidance. To date, the Jewish state is not featured in Qatar’s online list of 244 nationalities and territories eligible for a visa.

The pro-Israel nonprofit StandWithUs urged FIFA in an open letter on Tuesday to ensure Qatar will issue visas to Israeli visitors during the tournament.

“We call upon FIFA not to score an own goal and to uphold their code of ethics, which is premised on protecting international football from ‘illegal, immoral or unethical’ practices,” said Roz Rothstein, CEO and co-founder of the organisation.

“If Qatar is allowed to ban Israeli fans from entering this will reflect negatively on FIFA, which has made inclusion a primary hallmark of their ethos,” Rothstein added.

A report published last month critical of Qatar’s bid to host the World Cup called on the country to urgently clarify its position on the issue.

The report, written by the consultancy firm Cornerstone Global Associates, stressed that banning fans on the basis of nationality would breach FIFA’s code of ethics – which was adopted last year.

A FIFA spokesperson said: “As both FIFA and Qatar have said on many occasions, everyone will be welcome to travel to Qatar and attend the FIFA World Cup 2022.

“FIFA and the local hosts are working to ensure that the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 will bring together people from all over the world in a spirit of celebration, respect and fair play.”

Qatar’s supreme committee for delivery and legacy was contacted for comment.

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