A couple of days ago, a report concerning the state of our National Team and its players in the Diaspora was posted on kooora.com. Most of the information in the report came from an interview the author conducted with Majid Balawi. Always suspicious of the validity of such reports, Football Palestine tracked Mr. Balawi down and asked him to confirm the report (which he did) and asked him a couple of more questions, below are translated excerpts from the article that appeared on kooora followed by our own questions.
The Palestinian FA under the leadership of former President Ahmed Al-Afifi had called up Ahmad and Anas Sharbini to participate in the Cairo camp ahead of 2010 World Cup qualifiers against Singapore. The players were informed by their father who was overjoyed by the news and Mr. Balawi went about arranging their participation in the camp. The brothers never made it to the camp after the duo received death threats in Croatia they opted not to show up. After the National Team's loss and forfeit to Singapore, Jamal Sharbini was surprised that the National Team did not follow up again with his sons. He had attributed this lack of communication to the fact that the National Team did not play a single game between October 2007 and August 2008.
Upon the election of Jibril Rajoub as FA president, Majed Balawi expected the team to once again call up foreign-based players in the Diaspora:
"I made contact with Mousa Bezzaz and asked him to call up Ahmad and Anas Sharbini. He replied by saying that he would alert his scout, Mohammed Abou Hiltim to follow up with the players. I waited for the FA to contact Jamal Sharbini who is insistent that his sons only play for Palestine. Jamal called me and told me that the Croatian National Team manager Slaven Bilic had called Anas up but that he had told Bilic (without Anas's knowledge) not to use him in any official games as his aspirations are to play for Palestine."
Balawi goes on to state that he does not know why the FA has rejected his offers to help or why they have refused to call up either of the Sharbini brothers.
Concerning the Jordanian FA's approach of the Sharbini brothers Balawi stated: "Both players have Jordanian citizenship and Social Security numbers. I had known this all along but I had not revealed the information in the hope that they would play for Palestine. I elected to give this information to the Jordanian FA after the continual stonewalling that I received from the Palestinian FA regrading these players. Members of the Jordanian FA have since travelled to Croatia to conduct talks with Jamal Sharbini."
The Jordanian FA has since moved to approach FIFA with an official request to change both players affiliation from Croatian to Jordanian. They are also exploring the possibility of securing the services of Omar Jarun, by calling for the game he played in to be wiped off the slate due to Palestine's withdrawal from the second leg.
1. How did you come to work for the Palestine FA?
MB: I never worked with them I used to volunteer for the former federation on my own expense making phone calls, traveling.
2. It seems that after the 2010 World Cup Qualifier, there has been a reluctance on the part of the FA to call up players who play outside the Arab World. Is this intentional? It seems that it might have been for a lack of funds but surely that can't be the case now.
MB: This is something not to my knowledge ask the federation. I offered my help but they didnt want it.
3. Are players like Roberto Kettlun, Edgardo Abdala, Imad Zatara, Omar Jarun, et al... still willing to play for the national team.
MB: Yes, especially Omar Jarun and Roberto Kettlun they always email me and tell me they want to go play with Palestine and I always send the coach their information and update him about games and their status.
4. We've heard a lot about the Sharbini brothers, can you confirm the reports attributed to you on kooora.com? Moreover, if the Jordanian FA were to move for Jarun and the Sharbinis surely FIFA would prevent them from capping players who haven't even visited that country and have no ties to it.
MB: No you're [mistaken] all of them have a Jordanian Citizenship and after they didnt get any intrest from the Palestinian Federation and they got too much respect from the Jordanian Federation they are willing to go play with whoever respected them.
5. Were you or the FA ever in communication for players like Miguel Sabah, Daúd Gazale, and Julio Mansur? Did they express interest in playing for the national team?
MB: Only Daud Gazalle is Palestinian to start with but he already plays with Chile I asked the other players personally and they are not Palestinian Miguel Sabah is Lebanase and Julio Mansur is Syrian but he plays for [Paraguay] and you have to understand there is too much wrong information about the Palestinian players.
6. Can you tell us about any exciting prospects you've been in touch with? The fanbase has been excited by Daniel Kabir Mustafa's ability and Yasser Anwar Corona who we don't know much about but is currently playing in the Mexican Primera for Puebla.
MB: These Players are also not Palestinian this is to my knowledge.
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