Gianni Infantino makes comments about joint Israel-Arab World Cup bid during first visit to Jewish state
Edited by: TJVNews.com
FIFA President Gianni Infantino on Tuesday raised the idea of Israel participating in a regional bid led by the United Arab Emirates to host the 2030 World Cup, as was reported by i24News.com
Infantino made the remarks during a visit with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at his office in Jerusalem, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.
Bennett congratulated the head of soccer’s international governing body on his first visit to the Jewish state.
Infantino, on Monday, had spoken at the opening of The Friedman Center for Peace through Strength at the Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem, a center set up by the former Trump-administration ambassador to Israel David Friedman, as was reported by the Times of Israel.
I24 News reported that last September Israel signed the Abraham Accords that normalized relations with the UAE and Bahrain, with the later additions of Morocco and Sudan. The person behind the creations of the historic accords was Jared Kushner, the senior advisor and son-in-law of former President Donald Trump.
Infantino said that soccer’s world governing body was looking at expanding the men’s and women’s tournaments into annual events and as such could see Israel co-host.
“Why can’t we dream of the World Cup in Israel and its neighbors?” he asked, according to the TOI report. “With the Abraham Accords, why should we not do it here in Israel with her neighbors in the Middle East and the Palestinians?”
Infantino also held up Israel’s national team, where Jewish and Arab Israelis play together, as an example of coexistence inspired by sports, as was reported by TOI.
FIFA has been widely criticized for its first attempt to bring a tournament to the region, awarding the 2022 World Cup to Qatar. the move has been slammed due to Qatar’s poor human rights record and widespread allegations of corruption in securing the event.
The Times of Israel also reported that the Minister of Sports and Culture Chili Tropper, who met Infantino earlier in the evening, welcomed his remarks and said they discussed future cooperation between FIFA and Israel.
“The will to bring major international sporting events to Israel,” Troper said.
FIFA organizes the World Cup — the biggest sports tournament globally — every four years. The next World Cup in 2022 will be hosted by Qatar, followed by 2026 in the three countries of North America — the United States, Canada and Mexico.
Infantino raised the possibility that Israel would host matches along with other Arab countries.
The meeting was also attended by former senior US administration officials: former US Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin and former US ambassador to Israel David Friedman.
(Sources: i24News.com and Times of Israel)