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Algerian players boycott soccer game because opposing coach, Avram Grant, is Israeli

3 players refuse to play in Qatar game between FIFA Arab Legends and FIFA World Legends due to involvement of Israel’s former national team manager

Avram Grant is pictured in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, Feb. 5, 2015. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)
Avram Grant is pictured in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, Feb. 5, 2015. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

Three Algerian players withdrew from a “legends” soccer game in Qatar on Friday in protest at the opposing team’s Israeli coach, Avram Grant.

The FIFA Arab Legends and FIFA World Legends faced off on Friday at an exhibition event ahead of the FIFA Arab Cup final.

Rabah Madjer, Rafik Saïfi and Rafik Halliche all decided they would not play in the game over Grant’s involvement as coach and player for the World Legends team.

Although the World Legends team appeared stronger at the start of the game, the Arab Legends battled back to eventually win in a penalty shootout.

There was no mention of the boycott in the report on the game featured on FIFA’s website.

Grant’s public appearance at a game in Qatar was in itself unusual — Qatar does not have normalized ties with Israel and is a key donor to Hamas-controlled Gaza, distributing aid payments to Palestinian residents in the enclave.

Grant formerly managed English soccer giant Chelsea as well as serving as coach of the Israeli national team from 2002 to 2006.

Algeria has no diplomatic ties with Israel and has long been a supporter of the Palestinian cause.

In 2016, Algeria’s soccer team reportedly pulled out of a friendly match with Ghana because the latter had Grant as head coach.

In September, Algerian judoka Fethi Nourine was banned from competition for 10 years by the International Judo Federation after his withdrawal from the Tokyo Olympics to avoid a potential bout against an Israeli opponent.

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