Ex-Palestine player killed, drawing calls for FIFA sanctions of Israel

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The horrific displays of violence between the armies of Hamas and Israel claimed several journalists, including a former Palestine national team player, this weekend.

Former PNT midfielder and current sports broadcaster Ahed Zaqout, 49, was killed in his sleep when an Israeli bomb hit his apartment in Gaza.

The death, unsurprisingly, is already being used as politically-charged reasoning for FIFA sanctions against Israel’s national team, but the debate as to whether FIFA should discipline Israel is not new; The Israel Football Association dodged sanctions as recently as June.

From Reuters:

“Palestine has lost one of its best players, he may have been the best midfielder we ever had,” Gaza sports journalist Khaled Zaher told Reuters.

Neighbours and medics who rushed to Zaqout’s apartment said he was killed on Wednesday while sleeping in his bed. The 49-year-old was not known to belong to any particular political entity and had never expressed clear political views.

The fair-haired midfielder captained the junior national side and turned out once for the full national team in 1994 in a friendly against a team of French stars that included Michel Platini.

The Gaza situation is hot-button and charged, and obviously could have a major affect on the soccer fans of both Palestine and Israel. The Israeli national team is tied at No. 67 in FIFA’s latest rankings, while Palestine is No. 85.