x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Swansea pull Israeli footballer out of Dubai training camp

Premier League team thought of cancelling their visit to the UAE.

DUBAI // The English Premier League football team Swansea City considered cancelling their mid-season training camp in Dubai because their Israeli player would have been refused entry on grounds of his nationality, said Michael Laudrup, the club's manager.

Instead of travelling to the UAE with the team on Monday, Itay Shechter was granted permission to train in Israel with Hapoel Tel Aviv, his former club.

He will rejoin his Swansea teammates ahead of their league match with Liverpool on Sunday.

Cancelling the trip "was a possibility, but I thought we'd just made the arrangements and then would have to change", Laudrup said today at Dubai Sports City where his team were training.

"Itay hadn't been home for five months so I said to him to go back for these three or four days. Right now he's happy being home with his family and training."

Swansea reportedly discovered at the end of last week that Shechter would be denied access to the UAE. Laudrup said that should a similar situation arise, Swansea would consider an alternative option to the Emirates.

"When we have to plan it then we will look into if all our players can  come," he said. "But it depends if we're going for three days or for 10 days. Pre-season would be completely different; I would never do anything like that."

It is not the first time an Israeli footballer has encountered problems entering Dubai. In 2009, Tamir Cohen, then of Bolton Wanderers, said he would not have travelled to the emirate for his club's training camp, even if he had not been injured.

In 2007, Tal Ben Haim, then also a Bolton player, reportedly remained in England because of visa issues. However, Ben Haim now holds a British passport and is currently training in Dubai with his new club Queens Park Rangers.

jmcauley@thenational.ae