European MPs ask FIFA to ban Israeli 'settlement' clubs

66 members of the European Parliament sign letter asking FIFA President to prevent clubs from Judea and Samaria from playing.

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Elad Benari, Canada,

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A group of members of the European Parliament on Friday called on world soccer's governing body, FIFA, to act to prevent Israeli clubs based in Judea and Samaria from participating in officially sanctioned play, Reuters reported.

66 members of the 751-member European Parliament signed a letter addressed to FIFA President Gianni Infantino urging action at next month's FIFA Council meeting, according to the news agency.

The five clubs the MEPs referred to as being in breach of FIFA rules are all minor, non-professional outfits located in Maale Adumim, Ariel, Kiryat Arba, Givat Zeev and Bikat Hayarden.

"We urge you to act in accordance with FIFA statutes (and) international law...(that) FIFA should rule that settlement clubs either fully relocate within Israel's internationally recognized borders or are excluded from the Israeli Football Association," the letter quoted by Reuters said.

The appeal to FIFA was led by Alyn Smith of the Scottish National Party, a member of the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, who while calling on FIFA to "respect its own rules", added that it was not a request for a ban of Israel.

"I am not asking FIFA to suspend Israel, we just want it to apply the rules. Both Israelis and Palestinians have the right to play football... Allowing Israel to use football as an instrument of territorial expansion in the West Bank politicizes football," Smith said in a statement.

An official at the Israeli FA (IFA) told Reuters that the agenda for the October 13-14 FIFA Council meetings set to take place in Zurich had not yet been set and there was no certainty the matter would come up for discussion.

This is not the first time that Israel has been targeted at FIFA. Last year, the head of the Palestinian Football Association, Jibril Rajoub campaigned to have Israel suspended from FIFA because, he claimed, Israel was restricting the movement of Palestinian Arab players.

However, he withdrew the bid at the 11th hour, sparking anger among Palestinian Arabs, some of whom demanded Rajoub’s resignation.

Last month, Rajoub demanded that Jewish soccer clubs from Judea and Samaria be expelled from the Israeli league because they are "operating on Palestinian land". A leftist group which backs Rajoub's request said that if these Israeli teams aren't expelled from the Israeli league the entire Israeli league may find itself expelled from FIFA.

The Israeli official who spoke to Reuters noted that a committee established by FIFA last year to try to resolve disputed issues between the Israeli and Palestinian Arab associations was still in discussions. The committee was established following Rajoub’s first actions against Israel.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)








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