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AFC reject Palestine request to play in Gaza

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 17 (Reuters) - Palestine's request to play their home 2007 Asian Cup qualifiers in Gaza was rejected by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) on Tuesday.

The AFC said on its website that it could not reverse its policy of having Palestine and Iraq play their home matches on neutral territory because of security fears.

'A previous Competitions Committee decision prohibits (the) Palestine and Iraqi football associations from hosting matches on their soil until the security situation improves,' AFC deputy general secretary Paul Mony said.

Palestine Football Association president Ahmed Al-fifi had written to the AFC and football's world governing body FIFA asking for permission to play their home games in Gaza.

Jordan or Qatar now look the most likely venues for Palestine's home Asian Cup qualifiers. They played all of their home 2006 World Cup qualifiers in Doha.

Palestine have been drawn in Group E alongside China, Iraq and Singapore in the 2007 Asian Cup qualifiers which begin on February 22.