Vitesse leaves defender Mori behind as UAE bans the Israeli player
Premier division football club Vitesse is currently training for the second half of the season in the United Arab Emirates without defender Dan Mori, who was banned from entering the country because he has an Israeli passport.
Spokeswoman for the Arnhem club Esther Bal told Radio 1 the club had been given a guarantee Mori could join the team, but the day before they were due to go to Abu Dhabi, that guarantee was withdrawn.
Asked why the club did not make a statement and cancel the trip, Bal said this was not an option because it would disturb the club’s preparations for the second half of the season.
Mori himself wanted the rest of the team to go without him, she said.
‘Of course we wanted the team to be complete and it is very irritating for Mori that he is not with them but the interests of the team are paramount,’ she said. ‘Mori said so himself. And as a football club, we steer clear of politics and religion.’
Christian Democrat MP Pieter Omtzigt told the show the club had taken a political decision by going to Abu Dhabi. He also questioned the nature of the assurances the club had been given that Mori would be allowed to enter the country.
Vitesse is currently second in the premier league, behind Amsterdam’s Ajax on goal difference.
The club has friendlies against German sides VfL Wolfsburg and Hamburger SV during their UAE stay.
Esther Voet of the Dutch Israeli information centre CIDI said Vitesse should raise the issue with the world football body Fifa. ‘I wonder how things will go in Qatar where the 2022 World Cup is being held,’ she is quoted as saying by RTL news.
According to the Times of Israel, the Israeli embassy in The Hague issued a statement condemning Vitesse.
‘Such discrimination in sports is regrettable when sports should be beyond politics, especially considering this ‘benching’ of one of the team’s players,’ the statement said.
‘The club has chosen to exclude a player because of his nationality. It is truly regrettable that the soccer club from Arnhem pursued actions that fly in the face of the basic principles of international sports such as non-discrimination, moral conduct and sportsmanship.’
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