RAMALLAH, WEST BANK // Palestine will host the African champions Egypt on Aug 8 in probably their highest profile match on home soil at their main stadium near Jerusalem, the Palestinian Football Association chairman said on Sunday. In announcing the national team's upcoming schedule, the Palestinian FA chairman Jibril Rajoub also said Palestine would play an away friendly against Iraq in Arbil on Friday and would then travel to Beijing where they will play China on July 18.
Palestinians finally got to play international football on home soil last October when they drew 1-1 with Jordan in front of packed stands at their new 6,500-seat stadium in the occupied West Bank town of Al Ram, near Jerusalem. Previously, they had to play all their matches abroad, mainly in the Gulf, because Fifa, world football's governing body, deemed the Palestinian territories unsafe to host visiting teams.
Palestinian football saw the start of a revival in the West Bank last August with the relaunch of a semi-professional league suspended after a violent Palestinian uprising against Israel erupted in 2000. Teams from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, which has been blockaded by Israel since the Islamist group seized the coastal territory in 2007, do not take part in league matches. * Reuters