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

A Saudi football player, participating in a “legends” football match in Qatar, appeared to be scribbling the Israeli flag on his military uniform, according to photos circulated on social media.

Nawaf Al-Tmyat, who plays with FIFA Arab Legends in Friday’s match against FIFA World Legends at an exhibition event prior to the Arab Cup Final, is seen with a distorted Israeli flag on his uniform.

The T-shirts for the friendly match bore the flags of all 211 member countries of FIFA, including Israel.

There was no immediate comment from FIFA.

The incident came after three Algerian players withdrew from the match in protest against the coach of the competing Israeli team, Avram Grant.

Rabah Madjer, Rafik Saifi and Rafik Halliche decided that they would not play in the match due to Grant’s participation as coach and player for Legends of the World.

Although the World Legends team looked stronger at the start of the game, Arab Legends fought back to win the eventual penalty shootout.

There was no mention of the boycott in the report on the game presented on the FIFA website.

Grant’s public appearance at a game in Qatar was unusual in itself – Qatar does not have normal relations with Israel and is a major donor to Hamas-controlled Gaza, distributing aid payments to the Palestinian population of the strip.

Grant previously managed English football giant Chelsea, and served as the head coach of the Israel national team from 2002 to 2006.

There are no diplomatic relations between Algeria and Israel, and it has always been supportive of the Palestinian cause.

In 2016, the Algerian football team reportedly pulled out of a friendly match with Ghana because the latter had Grant as head coach.

In September, Algerian judoka Fathi Norine was banned from competing for 10 years by the International Judo Federation after he withdrew from the Tokyo Olympics to avoid a potential confrontation with an Israeli competitor.

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