Infantino hails historic 
UAE-Israel football partnership

Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid Al Nuaimi, president of the UAEFA, Oren Hasson, president of the Israel Football Association, with Gianni Infantino, president of Fifa, after the two countries signed a football deal in Dubai on Monday. (UAEFA)
Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid Al Nuaimi, president of the UAEFA, Oren Hasson, president of the Israel Football Association, with Gianni Infantino, president of Fifa, after the two countries signed a football deal in Dubai on Monday. (UAEFA)

Dubai - As per the new agreement, the two football associations will work in tandem to help the beautiful game grow in both the countries



by

Rituraj Borkakoty

Published: Tue 15 Dec 2020, 12:06 AM

Having signed a historic peace deal in October, the UAE and Israel took another beautiful step, paving the way for the two nations’ football federations to start a new journey.

In the presence of Fifa president Gianni Infantino, the UAEFA and the Israel Football Federation signed a memorandum of understanding in Dubai.

As per the new agreement, the two football associations will work in tandem to help the beautiful game grow in both the countries.

The deal will see initiatives at the grassroots levels as well as international friendly matches between the two countries, both at senior and junior levels.

While Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid Al Nuaimi, president of the UAEFA, and Oren Hasson, president of the Israel Football Association, were delighted after starting a new era of football in both the countries, Infantino was simply honoured to be part of a historic occasion.

“I am very happy and honoured to be part of this historic moment. It’s a historic agreement between the football federations of the two countries. I am very confident that football will benefit a lot from this new partnership,” Infantino said.

“Football is showing how a bridge can be built between two countries which was inconceivable, it was not possible to even think about. I think it just shows that the future is bright.”

Later, while talking to reporters, Infantino saluted the Arab footballers, especially the likes of Liverpool striker Mohamed Salah of Egypt and Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez of Algeria. “Well, you know, the Arab world is four hundred and fifty million people or more with some fantastic talent like Salah and Mahrez. So a big passion and a big heart and big emotion. In the Arab (football) culture, the emotion is always there,” Infantino said.

“And when we see also the investments which are being made, I think the future will give us many more surprises for the Arab world. Even Fifa is embracing it. We are organising the Fifa Arab Cup to see the best Arab country in the world. Let’s see, I think the future will show us what the Arab football is capable of.”

Infantino then asked the football world to be patient with VAR — the video assistant referee — after several top managers have raised their doubts about its efficiency.

“I think VAR is definitely helping football. It’s bringing more justice to football,” Infantino said.

“Let’s not forget that VAR is only two years old. So it’s not 20 years old or 100 years old. It can still be improved, it can still be made better. But it’s here to stay definitely. It’s helping the referees, it’s bringing more justice to the game. I think football is benefitting from it.”

Finally, the Fifa president opened up about the expansion of the World Cup. From 2026 onwards, the world’s greatest football tournament will feature 48 teams.

“48 teams from 2026. This means more participation from countries all over the world because, I think, the World Cup should be a celebration of football in the entire world,” he said.

“And we want at Fifa to integrate, and not just give an exclusive club for one or two continents. We want everyone to be part of it.”


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