World Cup Arab fans shun Israeli media, reject normalization: Reports
Arab football fans refuse to be interviewed by Israeli journalists in FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
Israeli media agencies reported on Tuesday that Arab fans in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 are distancing themselves from the Israeli media and are rejecting normalization with the occupation.
i24news said that several Israeli media agencies told Reuters that those asked for interviews turned their backs, refused to answer, or shouted Palestine, adding that fans are specifically shunning Israeli reporters, in a move that could illustrate challenges in warming relations between the Gulf and "Tel Aviv".
Israeli officials expressed their hope that the US-brokered normalization agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, in 2020, and later with Sudan and Morocco, would lead to further normalization, including with Saudi Arabia, i24news said.
"While Israel did not qualify for the World Cup, it had hoped the presence of an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 Israelis at the event would warm ties," the website said, noting that this "included Israeli reporters, who flew to Qatar ahead of the event on connecting flights, while one of them was on the first direct flight from Tel Aviv to Doha on Sunday, under a FIFA-brokered agreement," the website added.
"Attempts to talk to soccer fans in Doha didn't go according to plan," the website added, noting that footage circulated online shows Saudi fans, a Qatari shopper and a number of Lebanese fans deliberately distancing themselves from Israeli reporters, i24news confirmed.
Two days ago, Israeli media said that Lebanese fans in the World Cup Qatar 2022 refused to speak to Channel 12 reporter after learning he was Israeli.
According to the Israeli channel's correspondent in Qatar, the Lebanese young men became angry when they learned that the person speaking to them was from an Israeli media agency. The correspondent said, "The Lebanese young men refused to recognize the existence of Israel," stressing that "Israel" does not exist, it is Palestine.