PA urges FIFA to act on 'settlement clubs'

Palestinian Football Association urges governing body to act to ban Israelis clubs in Judea and Samaria.

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Elad Benari,

Jibril Rajoub
Jibril Rajoub
Reuters

The Palestinian Football Association (PFA) on Wednesday reiterated its call for FIFA, the governing body of soccer, to act against Israeli clubs based in Judea and Samaria, AFP reports.

A group of 66 members of the European Parliament recently signed a letter calling on FIFA president Gianni Infantino to act to prevent Israeli clubs based in Judea and Samaria from participating in officially sanctioned play.

Subsequently, Human Rights Watch called on FIFA to quit sponsoring Israeli matches in Judea and Samaria, claiming they are being held on “stolen land”.

There are six Israeli teams that play their home matches in communities in Judea and Samaria.

FIFA is expected to discuss the issue during its executive committee on Thursday and Friday.

Palestinian FA head Jibril Rajoub called on FIFA to force Israel to either expel the clubs or relocate them inside Israel's recognized borders.

"We are sending a message to the international community and the executive committee of FIFA that the time has come to solve this matter," he said, according to AFP.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino last week told AFP that the issue was a "priority" for him.

Asked by AFP what they would do if FIFA didn't rule in their favor this week, Rajoub said they could take the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

"We will take it to (CAS) and demand FIFA respect international law," he declared.

The Israel Football Association has accused the Palestinian Authority (PA) of dragging sport "from the football field into a political one," saying it wants to develop the game as a "bridge connecting people and not as a wall that divides them".

Israel is constantly being targeted at FIFA. Last year 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.

Wilfried Lemke, special adviser to the UN secretary-general on sport for development and peace, last week wrote to FIFA in support of the PA’s case.

"All teams playing in recognized FIFA competitions should abide by the laws of the game," he said in a letter, according to AFP.








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