Israelis watching this year’s soccer World Cup and already dreaming about how they can attend the next one in 2022 are being offered a way to save up for the trip by Israel Discount Bank.
There’s only one catch: World Cup 2022 will be held in Qatar, a Gulf Arab country that doesn’t admit travelers with an Israeli passport.
But that hasn’t stopped the bank from touting its Mundial 2022 Savings plan, a four-year savings account with monthly deposits. In Israel, the World Cup is known informally as the Mundial, the competition’s name in Spanish.
“You want to be at the Mundial? With Mundial Savings you’ll have a chance to realize the dream. Start to save today with a monthly fixed deposit of between 500 and 5000 shekels [$140-$1,400] and you too could see your beloved champions on the pitch,” Discount promises.
Withdrawals can be made in October 2022. The tournament is scheduled for November and December — an unprecedented time of the year, a concession to the wealthy Gulf sheikhdom where scorching summer temperatures would make it impossible to play the game.
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One consolation for Israeli savers who might yet be hoping for a diplomatic revolution that would allow them to go to Qatar, is that Discount Bank doesn’t require that the money saved actually be used for the 2022 World Cup.
Mundial 2022 does not permit withdrawals during the program’s four-plus years, but its 0.75% interest rate is actually attractive under current conditions. On the other hand, the Bank of Israel is expected to raise its base lending rate long before the four years are up, which will cause banks to raise their interest rates on deposits.
Asked about why it’s offering a savings plan for a trip that very few of its customers will be able to make, Discount Bank said: “It’s a short campaign advertising a four-year savings program for any and all purposes.”
And there is always the ever-so-slight possibility that Israel will be in the World Cup four and a half years from now. (The last time it played in the tournament was in 1970.)
Asked by The New York Times last October whether Israelis could attend if their country qualified, Hassan al-Thawadi, the Qatari in charge of the World Cup 2022 organizing committee, answered: “Everyone is welcome. It’s a simple answer: Everybody is welcome.”