Monday, 09 April 2012, 08:02 GMT
Kurdistan and Palestine bond via sports

KFF president, Safeen Kanaby presents KFF logo to the Palestinian General Consul in Erbil. / GLOBE PHOTO / Arsalan Abdulla

The Kurdish Globe

"Independent Palestine" tourney to include at least nine teams

Kurdistan team invited to participate in Palestine's international competition

For the first time in the history of the two organizations and in order to strengthen sports relations between Kurdistan Region and Palestine, the Palestinian General Consul in Erbil, Nazmi Hazouri, visited Kurdistan Football Federation (KFF) president Safeen Kanaby on March 25, and presented the Palestinian Olympic Committee's letter to Kanaby as an invitation for the Kurdistan Football Club to partake in an international competition in Palestine mid April.

"Palestinian sports officials are pretty much aware of the developments Kurdistan sports has witnessed. They are eager to see the Kurdistan team participating in a football tournament in our country next month," said Hazouri.

According to Hazouri, nine national teams so far have showed their readiness to contribute in the competition, and Kurdistan will become the tenth if they accept the invitation. The tournament, labeled "From Failure to an Independent Palestine," is on the anniversary of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War when Israel invaded Palestine.

Hazouri hopes Kurdish sports officials visit his country soon not only for tournament contributions but also to exchange ideas, information and experiences with their Palestinian counterparts.

Expressing his elation over Hazouri's visit, Kanaby said, "It is a great honor for Kurdistan footballers to be invited by the Palestinian Olympic Committee to participate in the competition. We are happy that the Palestinians haven't forgot us and we'll try to participate."

A week after Hazouri's visit, the KFF members held an emergency meeting to discuss the possibility of the Kurdistan team's contribution in the tournament. "We finally decided to let the team participate in the Palestine competition after we found out that the competition will not coincide with the VIVA World Cup," said Salam Hussein, KFF secretary.

The Kurdistan team is currently preparing to host the VIVA World Cup, an international football tournament organized by the NF Board, an umbrella association for nations unaffiliated with FIFA. Competitions are held every two years.

KFF recently appointed the coaching staff for the Kurdistan team, and players will be selected in the coming weeks. The team's contribution in the Palestinian tournament is believed to be a good preparation for the VIVA World Cup, which kicks off in mid June.

The Palestinian Authority opened its consulate in Erbilon November 29, 2009, after Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas visited Erbil to meet with Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani. The meeting resulted ina friendly match between the Iraqi national team and its Palestinian counterpart in Erbil.