UAE: No visa request from Vitesse, Mori

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The issue about Vitesse's Dan Mori has created frustration among the government and the football club. Minister of Foreign Affairs, Frans Timmermans, would've been 'happy to help' Vitesse in an attempt to get Mori, a player of Israeli origin, to a training camp in the United Arab Emirates, if his mediation to obtain a visa "was invoked in time."

The football club never met the visa requirements, according to the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). "The embassy strongly affirms that no application or request has been submitted for this visit," according to a statement on the UAE website. Information on the website clearly states Dutch can obtain a visa on arrival in the UAE, but Israelis have to submit an application prior to their trip.

Dan Mori / Wikipedia

Foreign Affairs and Israeli media responded surprised ,Monday and Tuesday, by the news of  the rejection of Mori, since other Israeli athletes were quite welcome in the Gulf states in the past. Vitesse, however, stated that Mori is not welcome in the country because of his Israeli nationality. "Months ago, visa applications were turned in for all selection players. The visa for Mori was not completed because a required letter of invitation from Abu Dhabi was never received," said Vitesse spokesperson, Esther Bal. "Let's say something went wrong in the communication between government departments."

"If you act in time, we know from experience there are options, even for Israeli athletes," a spokesperson for Timmermans announced from the Cuban Havana, where the minister is on a working visit.

Vitesse only inquired about visa rules for a visit to the Gulf state of Abu Dhabi on Saturday, when the club was leaving that Sunday, according to Foreign Affairs. Because time was short the ministry advised to immediately contact the embassy of the UAE. Mori was refused that weekend, according to Vitesse. The club decided to travel to the Gulf states anyway, because it already had engagements in Abu Dhabi.

Dutch politicians, including Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, blamed Vitesse Monday for their "weak attitude" and "cowardice" because they left Mori behind.
Vitesse and the Football Association (KNVB) retaliated by saying that Foreign Affairs has advised 'to keep politics and football separated.' The ministry denies this official advice is given. 'It was an informal "text" contact between two acquaintances of the KNVB and Foreign Affairs, which took place after Vitesse had already departed.'

Vitesse confirms this reading. The KNVB did not respond on Tuesday evening. Influential international media such as Reuters and AFP have been on top of the case, after Vitesse and the KNVB announced they wanted to meet with the FIFA about the refusal of the Israeli player, after the training camp in Abu Dhabi.

Upon Vitesse's return from Abu Dhabi, the KNVB will consult with the club on any further steps. It is not clear whether a joint letter to world federation FIFA and/or the UAE is still in order.