The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is urging FIFA to hold the Chilean El Palestino Club soccer team accountable for violating FIFA regulations by wearing shirts that include the number “1″ as the shape of Israel, thus implying that all the land is “Palestinian territory”.
The team’s use of these jerseys ignited a war of words between Chile’s Jewish and Palestinian Arab communities this week.
The president of Chile’s Jewish Community said that the group is demanding an apology from the club and asking Chile’s soccer association not to allow the shirts because they don’t recognize the Israeli state.
Chile’s Palestinian Federation said, meanwhile, that it backs the club’s choice of the shirt and said that those who object to it are “hypocrites.”
ADL noted in a statement Wednesday that the club, which is affiliated with the National Association of Professional Soccer in Chile “blatantly violated FIFA regulations,” and also breached the association’s Code of Ethics.
“We are deeply troubled by reports of the highly politicized and unsportsmanlike conduct of the entire El Palestino soccer club, which deliberately brought inappropriate political imagery to the soccer field,” said ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman.
“This clear delegitimization of Israel by substituting for it their map of ‘Palestine’ is also antithetical to the spirit of international sports competition, and FIFA has a responsibility to hold the team accountable for its actions. We call on El Palestino to stop using the jersey and comply with FIFA regulations,” he added.
The ADL sent a letter to FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke in which it expressed concern about the club's violation of specific FIFA codes mandating teams to “remain politically neutral” and to “refrain from offending the dignity or integrity of a country, private person or group of people through contemptuous, discriminatory or denigratory words or actions.”
“We respectfully urge you to promptly investigate this incident and to impose appropriate penalties against the El Palestino Club for its unacceptable behavior,” wrote Foxman.
“By upholding FIFA’s regulations and Code of Ethics, FIFA will reinforce the message that political statements have no place on the field of play in international soccer competition.”