“In the Middle East, where sport and diplomacy are closely intertwined, political passions can spill over onto the playing field”

Israel and UAE rugby teams face off in 1st after new ties
by Isabel Debre
March 19, 2021

… With the Palestinian cause the core issue uniting Arabs across the region for decades, Israeli players meeting Arab opponents on the field have learned the age-old conflict always looms. Spectators have thrown shoes and jeered. Egyptians, Saudis and others have refused handshakes or pulled out of matches. But on Friday, politics played a vastly different role. Months after the United Arab Emirates normalized ties with Israel, an Israeli national rugby squad touched down in Dubai to meet the Emirati team on the field for the first time. The more experienced Israeli team swiftly beat the UAE 33-0 in the first 7-a-side friendly match, held without crowds because of the coronavirus pandemic. READ MORE

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