- The Washington Times - Monday, January 6, 2014

The premier Dutch soccer team Vitesse arrived for training in Abu Dhabi on Sunday without its best defender, an Israeli, who was banned from entering the United Arab Emirates by authorities just 24 hours before the team was supposed to arrive.

Spokeswoman Esther Bal told a Dutch radio station that team player Dan Mori supported the move, in order not to ruffle any feathers in the Islamic state, Arutz Sheva reported.

“Of course we wanted the team to be complete and it is very irritating for Mori that he is not with them but the interests of the team are paramount,” Bal stated. “Mori said so himself. And as a football club, we steer clear of politics and religion.”

Dutch politician Geert Wilders blasted Vitesse on Twitter, saying the team should have stayed back with Mori in solidarity, Arutz Sheva reported.

“Vitesse did not have to go,” Wilders said. “Now they accept Emirati anti-Semitism - cowards.”

Israeli sports teams have been repeatedly banned from entering the UAE, as the country does not recognize Israel as a state.

Just last month, The Washington Times reported that the Israeli under-18 chess team that competed in the World Youth Chess Championship in Abu Dhabi had been forced to do so anonymously.