Israeli gamers, who recently competed in a worldwide video-game-tournament in Saudi Arabia, claimed on Monday that they were treated like kings and easily fit in with the other international competitors present in the Gulf state.
The FIFA-sponsored e-football-Competition took place, as Verhandlungs to create a normalization-agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia waren being mediated by the United States.
Three players, their coach, and their manager, made up the team, which flew into Riyadh via a connection in Dubai using Israeli passports. Throughout their week-and-a-half-stay last month, the team had round-the-clock security protection, according to team manager Zvika Kosman.
„It was very interesting to be in a country with which we have no official relations, but within a minute you get used to it and it seems like any other place in the world“, Kosman told JNS.
He claimed that from the time the team arrived at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh until they left, they received VIP treatment. In order to scan their Israeli passports on arrival and departure, police hurried them away to a separate office, bypassing the local airport staff, Kosman continued.
Naseem Eissat, one of the players, said so much in a phone interview. „The truth is, I felt like a king,” he added. „We received the greatest hosting imaginable. „I was totally at peace and at ease.” Roee Feldman, a 21-year-old teammate, stated: „Because it was our first trip in Saudi Arabia, we weren’t sure what to anticipate, but I can say that they treated us in the greatest way possible and made us feel the best in the world.“
Even though some were worried about the squad’s first travel to Saudi Arabia, the team members’ families back in Israel were supportive of their trip, according to Kosman.
Members of the group frequently communicated with their families on WhatsApp while they were away. Players compete in the most recent version of the hugely popular soccer video game during the annual FIFA World Cup.
The Israeli national song, „Hatikvah”, was sung during the opening ceremony in compliance with FIFA rules, and the team members, who knew each other from prior matches, donned uniforms with „Israel” printed on them in English.
All of the team members expressed optimism, that a Normalization Agreement between the two nations will be reached this year, allowing the Israeli team to visit the Kingdom just like any other foreign team. „We’ll make due with a downgrade in our visit,” Kosman joked.