Algeria has stepped in to host all matches involving the Palestinian national football team and bear all associated costs due to the continuing war in Gaza.
Algeria has agreed to stage “all official and non-official matches involving the Palestinian team’s preparation for qualification to the 2026 World Cup and 2027 Asian Cup and to assume all associated costs,” an Algerian football federation statement announced in a statement on Monday.
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The move, subject to approval from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), was announced after a request was put forward to the Algerian authorities by Jibril Rajoub, the head of the Palestinian football federation.
The first of these games comes next month when Palestine will “host” Australia in Algeria on November 21 in a 2026 World Cup qualifier.
Palestine are in the World Cup Asian preliminary qualifying Group I with the Australians and Lebanon.
The 2023 Asian Cup starts in January with Palestine set to face the UAE, Iran and Hong Kong in Qatar.
The North African country has long held an affinity towards Palestine and Algerian footballers and fans have repeatedly shown solidarity with the Palestinian cause.
During the current conflict, several Algerian footballers have shown solidarity with the Palestinians during their national team’s matches.
Algerian star Riyad Mahrez posted a picture on his social media showing him and two of his Algerian teammates holding the Palestinian flag.
At least 2,808 people have been killed in the Gaza Strip in a blistering air assault launched by Israel last week after Hamas carried out a bloody attack on Israel that left more than 1,400 people dead.
Israel has attacked Gaza for an 11th day in a row as the besieged Palestinian enclave faces a growing humanitarian catastrophe.
At least 57 people have also been killed in the occupied West Bank area.
An Israeli army spokesperson has renewed orders for Palestinians in northern Gaza – where some 1.1 million people live – to flee south, raising fears that an Israeli ground operation could be imminent.
Israel says as many as 300,000 Israeli troops are massed near Gaza and are readying for war with Hamas.
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies