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."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?