THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — A Dutch soccer club is facing criticism for traveling to Abu Dhabi for a training camp without a player who was barred from the Arab emirate because he is Israeli.
Vitesse Arnhem, which is in second place in the Dutch league, was told a day before it flew to Abu Dhabi on Sunday that defender Dan Mori would not be allowed into the country after being given assurances he would be admitted, club spokeswoman Ester Bal said Monday.
Officials in the United Arab Emirates could not immediately be reached for comment.
The UAE is a federation of seven states that includes the oil-rich capital Abu Dhabi and the commercial hub Dubai. Like most Arab countries, it does not have diplomatic relations with Israel.
"Vitesse should not have gone to UAE as a protest against the refusal of Mori," populist lawmaker Geert Wilders tweeted.
Wilders, known for his anti-Islam comments, is also fiercely pro-Israel.
Esther Voet, director of a Dutch-based organization called the Center for Information and Documentation on Israel, was critical of Vitesse and the UAE.
"Abu Dhabi, come on, let's get real," she said. "If you want to be a member of FIFA, you do not do this."
Speaking by phone from Abu Dhabi, the Vitesse spokeswoman told The Associated Press that the team could not call off its trip because it is to play warmup matches this week against the German teams Wolfsburg and Hamburg.