Rio, Saudis will accept an Israel stamp
PREMIERSHIP FOOTBALLERS with Israeli stamps in their passports would have “no problem” gaining visas to visit Saudi Arabia, its embassy confirmed this week.
The JC contacted the embassy after ManchesterUnitedwasinvitedtoplayin Riyadh in January as part of a testimonial game for Saudi footballer Sami Al-Jaber.
Several of the players, including Unit- ed’s Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand and Michael Carrick, have Israeli stamps in their passports following England’s goalless draw in Tel Aviv earlier this year. Many Arab states do not accept passports with Israeli stamps.
An official at the visa department of the Saudi embassy in London was asked whether anyone wishing to visit the country, even for personal business, would receive a visa.
He replied: “That is fine.”
The visa official went on to tell the JC that the players “should not have a problem” entering Saudi Arabia if it were classed as a business trip.
A Manchester United spokeswoman said that the match was not yet confirmed and said: “We would take all necessary steps to make sure the team could enter the country legally.”
She did not, however, rule out the possibility of players acquiring new passports.