The Palestinian soccer team will play its first international game at home when it faces Jordan on October 26 in a renovated stadium.
For 10 years the team has been playing "home" games in Jordan and Qatar. But its stadium in Ram has now been upgraded to meet standards set by soccer's governing body and will be opened by FIFA president Sepp Blatter.
"It is very important to FIFA that countries are able to play their home matches in their own stadium," FIFA spokesman Pekka Odriozola said Friday.
Palestinian team in action (Photo: AP)
Blatter will attend the exhibition game as part of his four-day visit to Jordan, Israel and Palestinian territory from Oct. 25-28. He also will inaugurate a second grass soccer field in Palestinian territory, at Majed Al-Asaad in El Bireh.
The Palestinians are ranked 180th of 207 members by FIFA, peaking at No. 115 in April 2006. The national team affiliated with FIFA in 1998.
It has played home games in the last three World Cup qualifying competitions in Doha, Qatar, and used a training camp at Ismailia in Egypt.
Travel for away games also has been complicated. The Palestinians failed to arrive for a recent World Cup qualifier in Singapore because of restrictions imposed by Israel -18 players and officials living in the Gaza Strip were denied travel permits. Israel had declared Gaza "hostile territory" and allowed only humanitarian hardship cases to leave.
FIFA denied a request from the Palestinian federation to reschedule and declared the game a forfeit and 3-0 win for Singapore, eliminating the Palestinians 7-0 on total goals.