Rio, Saudis will ac­cept an Is­rael stamp

The Jewish Chronicle - - Front Page - BY RACHEL FLETCHER

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.

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