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FIFA orders Palestine to stage qualifiers at neutral venue

Palestine, who will host both of their upcoming 2018 World Cup qualifiers at neutral venues, had accused of FIFA of bowing to pressure from Saudi Arabia when the ruling was first made. The venues are still to be named.

FIFA has said Palestine must play two upcoming 2018 World Cup qualifiers against Saudi Arabia and Malaysia on neutral ground because of security concerns.

The decision followed meetings Tuesday in the Palestinian territory "after which the Palestinian government confirmed that it could no longer guarantee the safety and security around the matches in question."

A home match against Saudi Arabia, originally scheduled for last month and then Thursday in Ramallah, has been postponed a second time. The Saudi association had refused to play in Ramallah, seeming to want to avoid going through Israeli security checks.

Palestine Football Union (PFU) in September accused FIFA of bowing to pressure

from Saudi Arabia after the world football governing body's decision to move the match to a neutral venue.

FIFA later reversed its decision. It said Palestine would be allowed to host the qualifier on home territory as the Palestinian football authorities had “given full security guarantees for the rescheduled match.”

FIFA said the match will now be played on Monday and the Palestinian federation will "provide details on the neutral ground in Asia" to host it.

The game against Malaysia is to take place as planned on November 12 on a neutral ground.

ap/rb (AFP)

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