Egyptian soccer team not to compete in tournament

Wednesday, November 22, 2006 |  by Staff Writer  

One may not think there is a difference between soccer and politics, but in Egypt there is a strong connection. The Egyptian government restricted its soccer team, “Jazeera,” from participating in an international soccer tournament in Holland because they were afraid its team would be forced to compete against an Israeli soccer team.

Two of the top teams were invited to join the slated game for next month in Harlem, Holland. Joining the group from Holland includes teams from America, Argentina and Mexico.

Organizers of the tournament said that Egypt was well aware in advance of participating teams, including Israel. There was a general feeling that Egypt would not be opposed. Nevertheless, it was announced that the Egyptian team would be unable to participate because of restrictions imposed by the Egyptian officials.

The organization publicly announced that the decision came from Egyptian officials and not from the team members themselves who wanted to compete in the tournament. Tournament leaders said “we regret that a sports tournament was exploited by a political declaration rather than encouraging human relations.”

In 1979, Israel and Egypt signed a peace agreement as Egypt became the first Arab country to recognize Israel. The peace treaty was signed sixteen months after Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's visit to Israel in 1978 after intense negotiations. Egypt was under extreme pressure from Arab countries not to sign a separate peace treaty. The main features of the treaty included mutual recognition of each country, the cessation of the state of war that existed from the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, and the withdrawal by Israel of its armed forces and civilians from the Sinai Peninsula which Israel had captured during the 1967 Six-Day War.

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