Ahmad Al Afeefy, head of the Palestinian Football Association said on
Wednesday that the team was unable to participate in the Asian World
Cup due to the Israeli closure of the Gaza Strip and its refusal to
allow team player from leaving Gaza.

Al Afeefy stated that the players were not allowed to travel through the Rafah Border Crossing, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.

He also said that Israel also rejected a request by the team to take alternative route via Israel or the occupied West Bank to Jordan where they can continue their way to Singapore. The team was planning to leave to Singapore on November 12.

Afeefy added that the Palestinian Football Association appealed to the FIFA and urged it to reschedule the match.

“Israel barred the team from travelling through the Erez Crossing into Israel so they can travel to Jordan and from there to Singapore”, Afeefy added, “The FIFA insisted that the game should be held on time, and without any delays”.

Saed Jundiyya, the captain of the Palestinian National Team, said that Israel effectively barred the team from its right to participate in the Asia Cup.

He added that he is disappointed from what happened, and that whenever he is asked if the team would travel and play, he says that “the occupation, did not allow the team to travel”.

Palestinian national team captain, Saeb Jundiyya, said he was disappointed.

Neither Singapore nor Palestine – the name FIFA gives the Palestinian team – can qualify for next year's finals as Iraq and 2004 Asian Cup hosts China have already guaranteed their places, Reuters reported.

The 2007 Asian Cup will be co-hosted by Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and Malaysia from July 7-29.