A decision on whether Egypt’s Olympic football team will play a friendly match against the Palestinian national team in occupied Palestine "has not yet been made," said President of the Egyptian Football Federation (EFF) Samir Zaher.
The EFF has however referred the matter to the National Sports Council in order to obtain travel permits.
Jibril el-Rajoub, president of the Palestinian Football Federation, promised to finalize all preparations through the Palestinian Authority, in order not to involve Israel, Zaher said. The EFF refuses to enter via Israel or to accept permits from any authority other than the Palestinian Authority.
Hani Ramzy, the Olympic team coach, said he insists on playing the match, despite the controversy it has sparked. "We’ve not been notified by the EFF that the match has been cancelled. We’re following a schedule to get prepared for the match," he said.
According to Ramzy, the much hoped-for match has the "noble purpose of keeping in touch with our Palestinian brothers."
Meanwhile, the Egyptian Olympic team is keeping in practice by playing friendly matches in preparation for its match against the Palestinian team.
Jibril el-Rajoub was previously quoted on 15 February by Firas Press, a Palestinian news agency, saying that he met with Omar Suleiman, chief of the Egyptian intelligence services, to discuss preparations for the match. He went on to say that the idea–which was originally to have the Egyptian national team play a friendly match against its Palestinian counterpart–was put forward by Suleiman.
In statements to the Emirati paper of Al-Bayaan on 18 February, el-Rajoub said he had met with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit to discuss coordination of the match. He also said the Arab League had given its approval for the match.
Translated from the Arabic Edition.