Israelis Will be able to Travel to Qatar for the Football World Cup
The football world cup, which is one of the biggest events in the sporting world, is scheduled to take place this November in Qatar. In good news for soccer fans in Israel, they will be able to travel to the country to attend the matches, even though the two countries do not have any diplomatic ties. The announcement was made on Thursday, after Israel entered into a deal with FIFA, which is the world soccer organization. The ministers of culture and sport, defense and foreign affairs made a joint announcement to reveal that Israelis will be able to travel freely to Qatar for attending the matches in the upcoming tournament.
Ordinarily, Israelis have to use a foreign passport in order to travel to Qatar. FIFA is the international governing body of football, and it signed a deal with Israel to make this happen. According to the terms, Israelis will first need to buy a ticket to a match and then get a Fan ID card online. If it is approved, they would be allowed to enter Qatar and book accommodation. The announcement further said that they were making efforts to organize direct flights to the Gulf country from Israel. Both Qatar and FIFA did not make any statement in this regard, but the former has previously stated that Israelis would not be blocked from attending the world cup.
Yair Lapid, the Foreign Minister of Israel, referred to this as yet another diplomatic achievement for the country. It should be noted that an Israeli team will not be participating in the upcoming tournament. Lapid said that it opened up the possibility of warm and new relations, highlighting the efforts the country is making in establishing ties with other Gulf nations and Saudi Arabia. Benny Gantz, the Defense Minister, stated that they hoped that citizens of the two nations would be able to develop an understanding through this visit.
Israel has been able to touch new diplomatic horizons in the Gulf through sporting tournaments. Before the Abraham Accords were signed in 2020, Abu Dhabi had given permission for the Israeli flag to be raised and its anthem to be played in sporting events in 2018. This put an end to a policy that the UAE had shared with other countries in the Gulf. From 1995 to 2000, there had been an Israeli trade office in Qatar. However, it is unlikely that the country would ever establish full diplomatic relations due to its ties with Iran.
Chili Tropper, the Culture and Sports Minister of Israel, said that sports can bring people and countries together and cross continents. But, it should be noted that the statement on Thursday did not talk about the security concerns associated with travel to Qatar, as the country has strong ties with the Hamas terror group as well as Iran and the West. The National Security Council had also thought about warning people about traveling to Qatar for attending the world cup back in April.