Ghana's No. 1

REVEALED: Why Arab and Muslim countries will oppose Avram Grant as Ghana coach

Published on: 17 November 2014
REVEALED: Why Arab and Muslim countries will oppose Avram Grant as Ghana coach
Ex-Portsmouth's manager Avram Grant gestures before their English Premier League match against Burnley

Ghana's likely to sign Israeli veteran Avram Grant as new national coach - but he might be barred from competing in Arab and Muslim states many of whom the Black Stars play regularly against and have much support.

Grant's Israeli nationality has meant that an otherwise unremarkable changing of the guard at a struggling African national team could in fact become a political minefield, and has shone a spotlight once again on ongoing disaffection within the Muslim world against citizens of the Jewish state.

Israeli nationals are barred from entering most Arab countries, along with some other Muslim countries such as Iran, since most do not recognize the existence of an independent Jewish state because of its treatment of the people of Palestine.

That could make competing on the international scene tricky for Grant - both in the Africa Cup of Nations tournament as well as any future World Cup and friendly matches.

Ghana plays regularly friendlies against countries like Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Egypt, Iran and the rest from the Muslim world

The awkward situation may be new for Ghanaian soccer fans, but for Israeli sportsmen and women it comes with the territory. Remember what happened to John Paintsil when he waved the Israeli flag while playing for Ghana at the 2006 World Cup.

Citizens of Arab and Muslim states who are bitterly opposed to Israel and because of the plight of the people of Palestine under Israel's watch - regularly withdraw from matches with Israelis in international tournaments - but even in more "moderate" Arab states disaffection is commonplace.

Earlier this year Dutch soccer club Vitesse left its star defender behind to play a match in Abu Dhabi because he was Israeli.

And it isn't just soccer. Late last year an Israeli chess team was forced to compete anonymously, also in Abu Dhabi, after being forbidden to compete under the Israeli flag.

Just a month previously, the International Tennis Federation suspended Tunisia from the prestigious Davis Cup after the north African country forced its top tennis player to withdraw from a match with Israel's Amir Weintraub.

In 2009 Israeli tennis player Shahar Peer was denied entrance into the United Arab Emirates to play in the Dubai tennis championships.

But the GFA president said the former manager of London's prestigious Chelsea Football Club and the Israeli national team has come up with an unspecified "alternative" solution.

"He has brought an alternative way of dealing with it. There is a satisfactory arrangement to arrest his threat. Very soon, in a matter of months, we should clear that."

Although the precise nature of that solution is not yet clear, sources confirm that it is unlikely to include a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace deal.

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