Football: Gaza team wins Palestine Cup despite Israeli restrictions

A player from the Gaza-side Shabab Rafah football team (blue) kicks the ball as Hebron's Ahly Al-Ahli players defend during the second leg of the Palestinian Cup final at the stadium in the city of Dura, near the West Bank town of Hebron, on August 4, 2017. Shabaab Rafah are taking on Ahly al-Khalil without 10 of their 25-man squad after Israel denied transit permits. (AFP)
Updated 06 August 2017

Football: Gaza team wins Palestine Cup despite Israeli restrictions

HEBRON: Shabab of Rafah became the first Gazan team to win football’s Palestine Cup in more than a decade Friday, despite Israeli restrictions keeping 10 of its players off the pitch.
Rafah and Ahly Al-Khalil from the southern West Bank city of Hebron which hosted the game ended the second leg nil-nil, but Rafah’s 2-0 first leg lead meant it took the title.
The Gazan club had to field a weakened side, with only 15 of its 25 members of the playing squad given Israeli permits to travel.
Rafah director Khaled Kweik told AFP it was the first time the team had ever won the cup, calling it a “historic” victory.
“We were harassed as we entered the West Bank and the Israelis banned 10 players from entering,” he said after the final whistle.
“But the rest of the players were able to protect the draw and take the title.”
The West Bank and Gaza are separated by Israel, and Palestinians looking to travel between the two must apply for Israeli permits.
Ahly won the cup in 2015 and 2016, but its home advantage in this year’s second leg was not enough to see it overturn the two-goal deficit.
The annual fixture pits the winners of separate cup competitions in Gaza and the West Bank over a two-leg final — one in each of the Palestinian territories.
The cup did not take place for 15 years largely over problems with Israeli permits, but resumed in 2015 after world football body FIFA intervened.
On Thursday, Shabab announced that 10 of their players had been prevented from entering Israel through the Erez border crossing with Gaza.
COGAT, the Israeli defense ministry agency responsible for civilian affairs in the Palestinian territories, said the ban was for “security reasons” compounded by a late submission of paperwork.


NBA postpones another two games, 11 players test COVID-19 positive

Updated 21 January 2021

NBA postpones another two games, 11 players test COVID-19 positive

  • Contact tracing leaves the Grizzlies without the league-required eight players available
  • The professional basketball league had already beefed up some protocols

LOS ANGELES: Memphis’ NBA game at the Portland Trail Blazers scheduled for Wednesday has been postponed with the Grizzles depleted by coronavirus contact tracing, the league said.
The league also postponed Friday’s Washington Wizards-Milwaukee Bucks game because of similar Covid-19 health and safety rules.
The 16th and 17th such postponements of the season came on the day the league announced that of 502 players tested for Covid-19 since January 13, 11 new players had returned a confirmed positive test.
The league’s coronavirus protocols require anyone who tests positive, or who is identified as coming in close contact with an infected person, to isolate or quarantine.
Contact tracing left the Grizzlies without the league-required eight players available for their scheduled game at Portland.
The Grizzlies had announced Sunday that Jonas Valanciunas was sidelined after entering the league’s Covid-19 health and safety protocols. He missed Memphis’ victory over the Phoenix Suns on Monday.
Wednesday’s game between the Washington Wizards and Charlotte Hornets had already been postponed. The Wizards will miss a sixth straight game on Friday as they remained unable to put eight players in uniform.
Of the 17 games postponed so far since the NBA season was launched on December 22, 16 have been called off since January 10.
The league triumphantly concluded its pandemic-disrupted 2019-20 campaign in a quarantine bubble in Orlando, but this season teams are hosting games in their home arenas as the United States continues to grapple with Covid-19.
ESPN reported Wednesday the league had advised teams it would station security officers near midcourt to remind players they should not hug or exchange handshakes, or engage in lengthy conversations with opposing players before or after games.
The league had already beefed up some protocols, such as requiring players to wear masks whenever they return to the bench area during games.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver has said the league would not try to jump the queue to have players vaccinated before priority groups including health care workers, the elderly and those with medical conditions.
However, he said Tuesday that the league has now discussed having players, the majority of whom are African American, getting the vaccine as a way of promoting its use in the Black community.
“There have been discussions,” Silver said at a virtual conference hosted by Sportico.