Palestine set to host first ever World Cup qualifier — For years, Palestinian soccer was disorganized, underfunded and hindered so much by Israeli travel restrictions that games were often forfeited because players couldn’t arrive for the coin toss. But the sport is now growing, with new stadiums rising across the West Bank, the local soccer federation hosting international competitions, and the Palestinians slated to host their first ever World Cup qualifying match next month.
On July 3 the Palestinian team will welcome Afghanistan in an early-round World Cup qualifier. Players say boosting the game is about more than sports: It’s a mission to build an independent nation.
”When teams come play on our land, it’s a way of recognizing the Palestinian state,” said 26-year-old player Murad Ismael. ”That benefits the Palestinian cause, not just Palestinian sports.” (Fox Soccer)
Above: Palestinian national soccer team player Hossam Wadi walks in the offices of the Palestinian Football Federation in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Wednesday, June 15, 2011. (AP Photo)