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Fifa accused of violating its own rules in delaying vote on illegal Israeli settlement teams

26th May 2017
Fifa accused of violating its own rules in delaying vote on illegal Israeli settlement teams

Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu (top) warned Fifa chief Gianni Infantino not to evict the Israeli FA over 6 of its teams playing in Occupied Palestinian Territories including (pictured) Beitar Ironi Ariel FC (Photo: Creative Commons)

Nadine Osman

The world’s football governing body is once again being accused of “capitulating” to Israeli pressure after ignoring its own statutes and delayed holding a Congress vote on Israeli football teams based in the occupied West Bank.

The Palestinian FA is demanding Fifa suspend the Israel FA for its inclusion of 6 illegal settlement teams based in the West Bank in its leagues. Fifa rules bar member states from holding matches on the territory of another member without permission.

According to a memo obtained by The Electronic Intifada, Fifa’s decision on May 10 to delay the vote on suspending Israeli FA during its Congress meeting in Bahrain this month came after the Israel FA presented a document to Fifa denying that an occupation [of Palestinian lands] even exists.

For the past 2 years, Fifa’s monitoring committee has repeatedly delayed the publication of its draft report on Israeli clubs playing in illegal settlements.

Israel intensified its diplomatic effort to undermine the Committee headed by South Africa’s  anti-apartheid activist and political prisoner Tokyo Sexwale.

Contradicting the long-held International Criminal Court ruling that Israel is in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and recent UN Security Council resolutions, reaffirming that Israel is an “occupying power”, the Israel FA told Fifa in its memo, the “term ‘occupied Palestinian territories’ is a politically motivated term and does not reflect a binding legal determination of the status of this territory.”

The Israel FA memo recommends that “the draft report should not be circulated” and the matter should be the “subject of further discussion.”

According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, also warned the Fifa President, Gianni Infantino, in a phone call on May 7 that the Palestinian resolution could “ruin Fifa”, and that “the Palestinian conflict is long term and Fifa isn’t going to solve it.”

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel accused Fifa of neglecting its own statutes by Israeli narrative and capitulated to demands for more delay and inaction.

“For two years, Fifa has ducked its responsibilities and allowed the Israel FA to violate Fifa’s own statutes by including football teams based in illegal Israeli settlements built on occupied Palestinian land,” PACBI’s Hind Awwad said.

“After bowing [down] time and again to Israeli intimidation, Fifa had a chance to correct its disgraceful record. But it seems Fifa President Gianni Infantino is bent on following his predecessor’s corrupt path.”

In related news, a human rights activist travelling to lobby Fifa congress delegates to penalise the Israeli FA was barred from entering the tiny island nation for the annual Fifa congress as the Bahrain kingdom continues a wide-scale crackdown on dissent.

 

Human Rights Watch (HRW) Israel-Palestine Director, Omar Shakir, arrived in Bahrain on May 9, planning to get a visa on arrival with his US passport as others attending the world soccer federation’s congress had before.

Instead, he said authorities held him inside Manama’s international airport and questioned him for two hours as men wearing Fifa shirts, apparently from the sports ministry watched. They ultimately said he couldn’t enter the country as he wasn’t on an official Fifa list, with one angry Bahraini official saying: “If you don’t go buy your ticket now, we’ll do it by force.”

In its recent report, HRW detailed how Fifa and the Israel FA jointly profit from Israel’s illegal colonisation of the West Bank and the settlement teams that play there.

Fifa head succumbs to Israeli pressure on illegal settlement teams

 

Palestine wants Crimea-style solution in football dispute with Israel

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