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This article is more than 2 year old.

Football World Cup qualifier: Two historic clashes of political relevance today

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Geopolitical equations around the world are changing -- and changing fast, in some cases. While U.S. President Donald Trump’s move to withdrawn his forces from Syria might have created chaos in the Middle East, the FIFA World Cup qualifiers are sending out a more unifying message.

Football World Cup qualifier: Two historic clashes of political relevance today
Geopolitical equations around the world are changing -- and changing fast, in some cases. While U.S. President Donald Trump’s move to withdraw his forces from Syria might have created chaos in the Middle East, the FIFA World Cup qualifiers are sending out a more unifying message.
FIFA, which recognises 211 countries vis-a-vis 193 recognised by the United Nations will see two historic matches played today. The first, the South Korea team has traveled to Pyongyang, North Korea and this is the first time that they have set foot across the border. Second, Saudi Arabia's national team will take on Palestine in West Bank for its first match.
Saudi team visits West Bank
Saudi Arabia's national soccer team has arrived in the West Bank for its first match in the Palestinian territories.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed team representatives on Sunday. He has said that Tuesday's World Cup qualifier illustrates deep bonds between the two peoples.
Abbas said, "We are proud of this visit, and we feel it embodies the historical relationship between Saudi Arabia and Palestine."
The two teams have played many times, and the Palestinians have hosted other Arab teams. But Saudi Arabia has never visited the West Bank before, apparently because it did not want to be seen as legitimizing Israel's occupation of the territory.
Many Palestinians welcomed the Saudi visit as an important show of support. But some social media critics believe it reflects Saudi Arabia's warming behind-the-scenes ties with Israel.
Koreas meet in a historic clash in Pyongyang
The rival Koreas are set to meet in a historic soccer World Cup qualifier in Pyongyang, but the match has been cast into media darkness in the South, with the North disallowing South Korean reporters and spectators and refusing a live broadcast from Kim Il Sung Stadium.
The Seoul-based Korea Football Association has sent two staff to the North Korean capital to watch Tuesday's game, but ruled out live text updates on its website because of uncertainties in internet connection, said Park Jae-sung, an official from the South Korean soccer governing body.
The game would be the first competitive meeting between the national men's teams in the North Korean capital, although the North hosted the South for a friendly there in 1990.
North Korea in recent months has severed virtually all cooperation with the South amid a standstill in nuclear negotiations with the United States, and repeatedly ignored the South's calls for discussions on media coverage issues and allowing South Korean cheer squads for Tuesday's game.
During qualification for the 2010 World Cup, North Korea chose to host games against South Korea at a neutral venue in Shanghai, refusing to hoist the South Korean flag and play the South Korean anthem on its soil.
The fate of the game in Pyongyang was uncertain until last month when the soccer's Asian governing body informed the KFA that the North decided it would host the qualifier as scheduled.
(With AP inputs)
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