The Israelis agreed to travel to Qatar to participate in the World Cup in agreement with FIFA

On Thursday, after reaching an agreement with world soccer’s governing body FIFA, Israel announced that Israeli football fans would be able to travel to Qatar for the World Cup in November, despite the two countries having no official diplomatic relations.

In a joint announcement by the foreign, defense, culture and sports ministers, Israel said its citizens – who normally can only enter Qatar with a foreign passport – will be able to travel freely and attend matches there during the upcoming tournament.

Under the terms of the deal struck with FIFA, the sport’s international governing body, Israelis wishing to attend must first purchase a ticket for the game, then apply online for a fan ID, approval of which grants the holder entry to Qatar and enables them to request residency.

The announcement stated that efforts are also being made to facilitate direct flights from Israel to the small Gulf country.

There was no immediate comment from FIFA or Qatar, which has said in the past it would not ban Israelis from attending the tournament.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid described the move as “another diplomatic achievement that will warm the hearts of football fans.” Lapid said that the upcoming World Cup, in which the Israeli team will not participate, “opens the door to new and warm relations,” referring to the efforts made to establish official relations with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz expressed the hope that “the Israelis will visit [Qatar] It will enhance the bonds of understanding between the citizens of the two countries.”

Australia fans cheer during the 2022 World Cup qualifier match between the UAE and Australia at Ahmed Bin Ali Stadium in the Qatari city of Al Rayyan, June 7, 2022 (Mustafa ABUMUNES / AFP)

The pressure on sports leagues helped advance Israel’s new diplomatic horizons in the Gulf. In 2018, two years before agreeing to establish ties with Israel, Abu Dhabi began allowing the Israeli flag to be raised and the Israeli anthem heard during sporting events, ending a longstanding policy it shares with most other Gulf states.

Qatar hosted an Israeli trade office from 1995 to 2000, but it is unlikely to join other Gulf states in establishing full ties with Israel due to its special relationship with Iran.

Culture and Sports Minister Chile Trooper noted that “sports have the power to cross continents and connect people and nations,” and welcomed the ability of Israelis to participate “in the biggest celebration of football in the world.”

Culture and Sports Minister Chile Trooper at the Khan Theater in Jerusalem, February 23, 2021 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Thursday’s statement did not address security concerns about travel to Qatar, a country that has strong ties to the West, Iran and Hamas.

In April, Israeli media reports indicated that the National Security Council was considering warning citizens not to attend the World Cup amid fears they could be targets of Iran or its proxies.

In recent weeks, Israel has tightened its warnings to citizens traveling abroad over fears of a retaliatory attack for the assassination of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Hassan Sayyad Khedei last month, widely attributed to Israel. A warning has been specifically issued to all Israelis traveling or considering travel to Turkey.

So far, Israel has recommended against non-essential travel to Qatar, setting a warning level for the country at 3 out of 4.

A view of the fence surrounding the Doha Exhibition and Convention Center where the World Cup draw was held on April 1, 2022 (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)

The Israel Hayom daily reported a month ago that more than 15,000 Israelis had already purchased tickets for the 2022 World Cup. Security measures are expected to be particularly high around the event, as more than one million soccer fans from around the world are set to flood the Gulf country to attend Matches are in November and December.

Qatar said last month that it would only allow foreigners with match tickets to enter the Gulf state during the World Cup. Fifa’s director of security Helmut Spahn said last month that the biggest security challenge expected during the World Cup was crowd control, not terrorist threats.

In the past, “we had threats of terrorist attack before the World Cup, we had private security and police strikes, and sometimes we had problems with the infrastructure in stadiums not ready. That’s not the case here,” Spahn said. The threat “is low and under control,” Spahn said. Here in Qatar.

AFP contributed to this report.

It’s not about you (just).

Supporting Times of Israel is not a transaction for an online service, such as a subscription to Netflix. The ToI community is for people like you who care public goodEnsuring that Israel continues to provide balanced and responsible coverage to millions around the world free of charge.

Sure, we will remove all ads from your page and you will only be able to access some amazing community content. But your support gives you something deeper than that: the pride of joining Something really important.

Join the Times of Israel community Join our community Already a member? Sign in to stop seeing this

You are a professional reader

That’s why we started The Times of Israel ten years ago – to provide discerning readers like yourself with must-read coverage of Israel and the Jewish world.

So far we have a request. Unlike other news outlets, we have not put in place a paywall. But since the journalism we do is costly, we invite readers for whom The Times of Israel has become important to help support our work by joining Times of Israel Society.

For as little as $6 a month, you can help support our quality journalism while enjoying The Times of Israel Free adsas well as access EXCLUSIVE CONTENT Available only to members of the Times of Israel community.

Thank you,
David Horowitz, founding editor of The Times of Israel

Join our community Join our community Already a member? Sign in to stop seeing this

Leave a Comment