FIFA head Gianni Infantino proposes joint Israel-UAE World Cup bid

FIFA president Gianni Infantino

The president of the International Federation of Association Football [FIFA] has proposed that Israel jointly bids to host the World Cup in 2030 with the UAE, Israeli media reported on Tuesday.

Swiss-Italian Gianni Infantino revealed that there has been “a lot of talk” in recent months about the possibility of Israel co-hosting the World Cup with the UAE or other Arab states it recently normalised ties with.

Speaking from Israel, where he attended a controversial conference hosted by right-wing daily The Jerusalem Post, Infantino urged Tel Aviv to “have visions, dreams and ambitions” to host the global sporting event.

“We have been speaking a lot in recent months after the UAE and Israel signed their normalization agreement. So perhaps co-hosting is an option,” he said, according to The Jerusalem Post.

During his visit, Infantino met with Israeli PM Naftali Bennett, who allegedly congratulated him on his first visit the Israel.

Infantino was also scheduled to meet with the president of the Palestine Football Association (PFA), Jibril Rajoub, who cancelled the meeting after learning that the FIFA head had attended the controversial event, which was held at the “Museum of Tolerance” – a campus built over a historic Islamic cemetery in East Jerusalem.

“[The PFA] regrets the decision of FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, to take part in [the event, which was held] at the so-called ‘Museum of Tolerance’, […] built over the M’manullah Islamic cemetery, the oldest Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem dating back to the 11th century,” the PFA said in a statement, according to Wafa.

Infantino’s participation was slammed as “a total affront to the values of religious tolerance and peaceful coexistence, both endorsed by the FIFA statutes”, according to the statement.

Israel struck controversial normalisation deals with four Arab states last year.

Known as the Abraham Accords, Israel fully established diplomatic ties with the UAE and Bahrain – followed by normalisation with Sudan and then Morocco – under the tenures of then Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump.

The US-brokered agreements were met with fierce Palestinian backlash and condemnation from some Arab nations, who slammed the deals as betrayal of the Palestinian cause.

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