Palestine apply to host World Cup 2026 qualifiers in West Bank

July 5 – After making it further than ever in World Cup qualifying, Palestine are now hoping to start hosting games on home soil.

The Palestine FA wants to stage matches in the third stage of its Asian qualification campaign in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, starting against Jordan on September 10. Currently ranked No. 95 in the world, they have been drawn in Group B containing South Korea, Iraq, Jordan, Oman and Kuwait.

Palestine progressed through the second round of continental qualifying for the first time in its history in June but because of the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza strip, staged its ‘home’ games in nearby Kuwait and Qatar.

“Playing at a neutral venue isn’t permanent and was never meant to be so,” Susan Shalabi, the PFA’s deputy president, told The Associated Press. “Faisal Al-Husseini is ready to host.”

The 12,500 capacity Faisal Al-Husseini International Stadium is situated in the West Bank town of Al Ram. In 2019, it hosted the team’s last competitive home game, a World Cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia that ended 0-0.

The game against Jordan is scheduled for September 10.

The top two from each group of six qualify automatically for the 2026 World Cup and Shalabi said there had been “no objections” from FIFA or the Asian Football Confederation for Palestine to play at home.

The Jordan Football Association issued a statement to “affirm its position in support of the Palestinian Football Association’s right to hold its home matches on its land and among its fans.”

“Jordan is proud to be the first team to face our Palestinian brothers in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers on Palestinian territory,” the statement said.

The Oman Football Association, meanwhile, also said it supported the PFA’s “legitimate right to hold official national team matches in front of its fans on home soil.”

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