Malaysia set to ease Israeli ban for Grant

Malaysia may relax its ban on Israeli citizens to allow Chelsea's pre-season tour to go ahead. Chelsea have pencilled in a match against the Malaysian national side as part of a mini Asian tour in July but have said the club's Israeli coach Avram Grant and defender Tal Ben Haim would have to be allowed into the country. Now deputy prime minister Najib Tun Razak has said the ban may be lifted for the Chelsea pair.

"Chelsea are not my team but it's definitely good for local football," he said. "I'm not sure what the decision should be yet but it would be a pity if politics got in the way of sports. There is a travel ban. We'll have to study the situation first, but I would like to see Chelsea playing here."

Asked which team he supported, Najib said: "I'm a staunch supporter of Manchester United."

Malaysia does not have diplomatic ties with Israel and citizens must get special permission to visit the country. In 1997, the government allowed Israel to compete in a cricket tournament though the decision led to a series of demonstrations in Kuala Lumpur.

Chelsea's chief executive Peter Kenyon said last week they would not tour without Grant. He said: "We clearly could not travel without our top coach. It will make no sense to travel without a key member of the coaching staff."

Grant also said Chelsea would carry on campaigning to have their game against Everton moved back from 17 April to its original slot of 19 April. The fixture was switched to make it a live game on Sky, but with a game against Wigan scheduled for Monday 14 April, club officials are unhappy.

Grant said: "I don't understand why we need to play on a Thursday. It's unfair. When we come to the end of the season, it should be equal for all the teams. We need to fight in any way that we can to make it a fair decision."

Grant said he is confident Manchester United, who enjoy a five-point advantage over his side, will drop enough points to make next month's visit to Stamford Bridge a significant moment in the title race. The champions are due in London on 26 April and Grant said:"I don't think that each of the three teams will take all the points. Since I've been here, we've been chasing after other teams. First it was five teams, then four. We've gone past Liverpool and now Arsenal. We have to keep winning and hoping that, when United come here, it will be important."

News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
news
News
i100
Sport
Alexis Sanchez missed a penalty before scoring the opening goal with a header at the back post
footballLive! Sanchez makes up for penalty miss to put Arsenal ahead
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
Sport
Rooney celebrates with striker-partner Radamel Falcao after the pair combine to put United ahead
footballManchester United vs Newcastle match report
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all