August 6 – In a first not just for football but also for geopolitics, Iraq broke new ground on Saturday by playing its first-ever match in the Palestinian territories, beating the home side 3-0 in a friendly.
Some 2,000 fans attended the match in al-Ram near Jerusalem in the West Bank.
Many teams in Arab countries – most of which do not recognise Israel – refuse to visit the Palestinian territories because Israel controls the West Bank’s borders and maintains a blockade on the Gaza Strip.
But Palestinian leaders have for years called on its so-called neighbours to send sporting and cultural delegations in order to help ease their isolation.
“We call on all Arab teams to follow Iraq’s lead and come to Palestine,” said Susan Shalaby, vice president of the Palestinian Football Association.
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