UAE club Al-Ain will play Israel’s Maccabi Haifa in two friendlies, the Emirati side said, the first such fixtures since the two countries normalized relations.
The announcement came during the virtual signing of a deal between the two clubs and follows the United Arab Emirates’ landmark move to normalize relations with the Jewish state in August.
“(The agreement) will consolidate the policy of bridge-building and cooperation between the two major clubs in various fields including marketing, technical cooperation, investment, commercial activities, media, and sport,” said Mohamed Thaaloob, chairman of the Al-Ain club investment company.
The clubs, two of the most successful in their respective leagues, also agreed to stage two friendlies, the first to be hosted by Al-Ain and the second to be held in Haifa at an unspecified future date, he added.
In September, Israel signed the US-brokered Abraham Accords at a White House, officially normalizing relations with the UAE and Bahrain.
The Jewish state has since signed similar agreements with Morocco, Sudan, and most recently Kosovo, the first Muslim-majority country to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
In October the Emirati and Israeli football federations signed a cooperation agreement, a first between the two nations, intended to promote closer sporting ties.
A month before that agreement, Emirati club Al-Nasr signed Israeli player Diaa Saba, who is of Palestinian heritage, becoming the first Israeli player to sign for a club in an Arab league.
Until last year, only Egypt, in 1979, and Jordan, in 1994, had normalized ties with Israel.