The President of the Palestinian FA Jibril Rajoub dropped his bid to suspend the Israeli FA from FIFA in Zurich, Friday May 29.
Elham Asaad Buaras
Palestinian human right groups are expressing anger after the Palestinian Football Association (PFA) dropped a motion to suspend Israel from FIFA on May 29, over its systematic abuses of football players.
Instead of a vote to expel Israel from FIFA, the delegates from 209 member countries overwhelmingly adopted a motion muscled onto the agenda by FIFA’s President Sepp Blatter to create a committee to monitor Palestinian football and Israeli abuses – a sporting version of the “peace process”.
Blatter’s move, just hours before he was re-elected to FIFA’s presidency, came over objections from the Palestinian officials, who thought that delegates would be allowed to vote on a motion to refer the status of Israeli clubs based in settlements in the occupied West Bank to the UN.
The PFA were hoping FIFA replicate its decision to suspend South Africa from FIFA in 1962 based on the grounds of discrimination.
Security agents hold a demonstrator holding a Palestinian flag and asking to expel Israel of the FIFA during the 65th FIFA Congress on May 29
167 delegates have affirmed in the amendment that passed: “Restrictions of Palestinian rights for the freedom of movement. Players and football officials both within and outside the borders of the occupied State of Palestine, have been systematically restricted from their right to free movement, and continue to be hindered, limited, and obstructed by a set of unilateral regulations arbitrarily and inconsistently implemented. This constitutes a direct violation by IFA of Article 13.3 of the FIFA Statute, specifically in relation to Article 13.1(i) and its corresponding articles in UEFA rules.”
PFA President, Jibril Rajoub, said: “I decided to drop the suspension but it does not mean that I give up the resistance.”
The PFA accused Israel of hampering its activities and restricting the movement of players between the Gaza Strip and the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Zaid Shuaibi, a spokesperson for the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), said, “The Palestinian BDS National Committee is disappointed that the entire FIFA congress, including the Palestinian Football Association, have not lived up to their obligations and stated principles.”
“FIFA and its membership have delayed the suspension of Israel, but they cannot delay the growth of the international boycott of Israel or prevent the continued isolation of Israel because of its human rights abuses and war crimes against the Palestinian people,” Shuaibi added.
Red Card Israeli Racism, a UK-based group that campaigns for a boycott of Israeli football bodies, has been protesting outside the FIFA congress meeting in Zurich.
“We’ve been writing letters to FIFA members, pointing out the arguments for Israel’s suspension,” Geoff Lee, a member of the campaign, told Patrick Strickland earlier this week.
In a New York Times op-ed Palestinian footballer Iyad Abu Gharqoud explained why he wanted the Israeli FA kicked out of FIFA.
“Players, coaches and referees are blocked from moving between the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and frequently are barred from tournaments,” Abu Gharqoud wrote. “Israel has also violated FIFA rules by allowing teams from Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank to play in Israel’s leagues. In addition, the Israeli fans of the Beitar Jerusalem club are notorious for chanting ‘Death to the Arabs’ at matches – racist abuse that the Israel Football Association’s token disciplinary measures have failed to deter.”
“Today, our players are frequently arrested and detained,” Abu Gharqoud added. “Last year, two of our most talented young players were shot and wounded by Israeli forces at a checkpoint.”
He added: “Until the day that Palestinians and Israelis are equal under the law, FIFA has a moral duty to exclude Israel from the World Cup and European Championships. Israeli officials may punish me for saying so, but it will be only through their exclusion from international soccer that Israeli citizens will realize that the subjugation of the Palestinian people comes at a growing political and cultural cost.”