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Saudi soccer player appears to deface Israeli flag on FIFA Legends uniform

Social media users share images of Israeli flag blacked out on Nawaf Al-Temyat’s shirt ; 3 Algerian players refuse to play due to involvement of Israeli manager

The Israeli flag on Nawaf Al-Temyat's shirt at a FIFA Legends game in Qatar is seen blacked out, on December 17, 2021. (Screenshot/Twitter)
The Israeli flag on Nawaf Al-Temyat's shirt at a FIFA Legends game in Qatar is seen blacked out, on December 17, 2021. (Screenshot/Twitter)

A Saudi Arabian soccer player, competing in a “legends” soccer game in Qatar, appeared to scribble out the Israeli flag on his uniform, according to images shared on social media.

Nawaf Al-Temyat, playing for the FIFA Arab Legends in a game on Friday against the FIFA World Legends at an exhibition event ahead of the FIFA Arab Cup final, was seen with a defaced Israeli flag on his uniform.

T-shirts for the friendly match carried the flags of all 211 FIFA member states, including Israel.

There was no immediate comment from FIFA.

The incident comes after three Algerian players withdrew from the match in protest at the opposing team’s Israeli coach, Avram Grant.

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, and served 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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