Doha, MINA – The official Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup hospitality booking website has listed Palestine as a country option instead of Israel.
As quoted from Middle East Monitor, the listing previously displayed “Palestinian Territory, Occupied” before being changed to “Palestine” and has received mixed reactions across social media, with Palestinian and pro-Palestine activists praising the move and Israelis and Zionist supporters deeming it “disgraceful” or “anti-Semitic”.
Israeli media noted that the decision “sparked outrage”, although acknowledged a number of other countries such as Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia were also not mentioned on the site.
Winterhill Hospitality, a Hong Kong-based company, has exclusive rights to offer hospitality services for the World Cup mentioned that its subsidiary MATCH Hospitality “is the only company in the world that is authorized by FIFA to offer and guarantee exclusive ticket-inclusive hospitality packages for every match of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, directly or through its appointed Sales Agents.”
The Jewish Chronicle reported that a spokesperson for MATCH Hospitality said: “Palestine is served by our sales agent, Winterhill Hospitality, based in Hong Kong, who together with another exclusive sales agent, BH Hospitality, have been appointed to represent MATCH Hospitality in all territories in the AFC and OFC Regions across Asia, Asia-Pacific/Middle Eastern region, including Palestine.”
“Efforts were made to find and appoint a sales agent in Israel, but we were not able to do so. This is not unique to Israel, there are in fact many dozens of national Territories where we do not have exclusive representation and therefore do not feature in our website.”
Israel is listed as a country on the standard FIFA ticketing website and directly on the Winterhill Hospitality website.
Israel reached a deal with FIFA in June to allow Israelis to purchase tickets for the tournament and enter Qatar, making it the first time that Israelis will be accepted into the country without using a foreign passport.
According to its commitments to FIFA, Qatar is obliged to give the same treatment to all countries in the world, without omitting names or flags.
Qatar World Cup officials have repeatedly said that all nationalities are welcome during the tournament. All ticket holders must apply for the Hayya card, a fan identification, which doubles as their entry visa to Qatar.
Unlike its Gulf Arab neighbours, Bahrain and the UAE, which recently signed normalisation agreements with Israel, Qatar has conditioned normalising relations on the establishment of a Palestinian State. (T/RE1)
Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)