Palestinian FA postpones cup final after Israel denies travel

The first leg of the final was played by Khadamat Rafah and Balata FC, ending in 1-1. (File/AFP)
Updated 03 July 2019

Palestinian FA postpones cup final after Israel denies travel

  • Israel only granted 4 travel permits out of total of 35 were requested
  • The officials did not clarify on what grounds they refused the permits

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories: The final of the Palestine Cup has been postponed after Israel denied Gaza-based players permits to travel, the Palestinian Football Association said on Wednesday.
The second leg of the final between Balata FC and Khadamat Rafah, the winners of the West Bank and Gaza leagues respectively, was due to take place on Wednesday, PFA vice president Susan Shalabi told AFP.
Gaza-based team Khadamat Rafah requested travel permits to the West Bank for 35 people, but Israel granted just four, three of them to club officials, Shalabi said.
“The Israelis are very adamant in their refusal,” she added, saying they had cited security concerns they did not specify.
A Khadamat Rafah official told AFP the club were still waiting for final decisions and were hopeful of securing more permits in the coming days.
“We are ready at any moment. If we got the permits now, in 30 minutes we will be there,” Hodaifa Lafi told AFP. “The game has to go ahead.”
She said it was impossible to discuss a date for the second leg until Israel granted more permits.
There was no immediate comment from COGAT, the Israeli defense ministry body responsible for Palestinian civil affairs.
The first leg, played on Sunday in Gaza, ended 1-1.
The West Bank and Gaza are separated by Israel, and Palestinians looking to travel between the two must apply for Israeli permits.
The tournament faces problems every year with permits for players to leave the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, which Israel has kept under crippling blockade for more than a decade.
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.
But the Palestinians have since accused FIFA of failing to follow its own rules after it decided to pursue no further action against Israel over football teams based in settlements in the occupied West Bank.
“The way FIFA are dealing with the Israelis is encouraging them to act with impunity,” Shalabi said.


Russian athletics champ blasts own sports authorities

Updated 11 December 2019

Russian athletics champ blasts own sports authorities

  • Lasitskene, a three-time world champion, has in the past been critical of Russia’s athletics federation

MOSCOW: Russian high jump world champion Maria Lasitskene on Tuesday accused her country’s own sports authorities of failing to protect athletes from the deepening doping crisis, in a rare public broadside at top officials.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on Monday handed Russia a new, this time four-year, ban from top global sporting events, including the next summer and winter Olympics and the 2022 soccer World Cup, for tampering with laboratory data.

The ruling means Russian athletes cleared to compete at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will do so under a neutral flag. But Lasitskene and some other Russian track and field athletes face additional obstacles to being cleared for competition.

“I’ve already missed one Olympics and one-and-a-half years of international competition,” Lasitskene wrote in an open letter addressed to Russia’s sports authorities.

“And it seems that’s not the end of it. So who ultimately is to blame? Who’s going to give me back what I’ve lost?” she wrote in the letter published on Russian sports media outlet Championat.Com.

Lasitskene, a three-time world champion, has in the past been critical of Russia’s athletics federation, which has been suspended for doping since 2015, and has been one of the few Russian athletes to voice her anger publicly.

World Athletics, the global body governing athletics, last month halted the reinstatement procedures for Russia’s athletics federation after its president and six others were provisionally suspended for serious breaches of anti-doping rules.

As a result of these fresh sanctions, World Athletics also said it was reviewing the process it has used in the past to clear some Russians, including Lasitskene, to compete internationally as neutrals.

“Why have we arrived at a situation when an athlete is supposed to be delighted about getting neutral status?” Lasitskene wrote.

“Was the Sports Ministry and Russian Olympic Committee really happy with the Russian athletics federation’s work?”

The president of Russia’s Olympic Committee, Stanislav Pozdnyakov, on Monday dismissed the sanctions against Russia as inappropriate and excessive.