Saudi Arabia's national soccer team has arrived in the West Bank for its first match in Palestine, ahead of their upcoming match against the Palestinian national team.
The two teams will face off during a World Cup qualifying match in the Palestinian town of al-Ram on October 15.
Saudi Arabia’s Sports Authority announced October 3 that its national football team would play against the Palestinian national team. Past matches between the two countries’ football teams have taken place in third countries. The two teams have played many times, and the Palestinians have hosted other Arab teams.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed team representatives on Sunday. He says Tuesday's World Cup qualifier illustrates deep bonds between the two peoples.
Abbas says: "We are proud of this visit, and we feel it embodies the historical relationship between Saudi Arabia and Palestine."
Many Palestinians welcomed the Saudi visit as an important show of support.
Saudi Arabia’s Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisal, chairman of the country’s Sports Authority, said the step comes in response to the request of the Palestinian Federation and their desire to host the game.
“At the request of the brothers in the Palestinian Federation, the Saudi Football Federation agrees to play the first team match in the Asian qualifiers in the city of Ramallah in Palestine,” Saudi Arabia’s Sports Authority said on Thursday in a statement on Twitter.
The decision was also made to ensure that the Palestinian team is “not deprived of playing the game at home among its fans like other countries.”