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Israeli minister defends restrictions on Palestinian soccer players in letter to FIFA chief

Israel's sports minister has written to FIFA President Sepp Blatter, defending her country's travel restrictions on some Palestinian soccer players.

Limor Livnat contacted Blatter ahead of the FIFA Congress, the meeting of world soccer's governing body in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Palestine Football Association has called on FIFA to suspend Israel unless it lifts travel restrictions on his players.

Israel cites concerns about possible attacks by Palestinian militants as the main reason for sweeping restrictions on movement that affect virtually all Palestinians, including athletes.

Livnat says Israel recently detained a Palestinian national team player, Sameh Maraabe, on suspicion he met with a "military activist" of the Islamic militant Hamas during a team visit to Qatar. She says the player received funds and a phone from Hamas.

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