PA threatens legal action over 'settlement clubs'

Head of Palestine Football Association threatens to turn to sports court if FIFA fails to ban Israeli clubs in Judea and Samaria.

Elad Benari,

Jibril Rajoub
Jibril Rajoub
Reuters

Jibril Rajoub, head of the Palestine Football Association (PFA), on Tuesday threatened to appeal to the world's top sports court if FIFA, the governing body of soccer, fails to punish Israel over clubs based in Judea and Samaria.

Rajoub has led a campaign against Israel at FIFA, calling on the body to ban six small-time Israeli clubs which play in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

FIFA was to issue a decision on the matter last month at its council meeting, but put it off after the body’s envoy to the region, South African powerbroker Tokyo Sexwale, said he was unable to deliver a final report to the council because his committee "was not able to meet".

Speaking to AFP on Tuesday, Rajoub said the two sides met at FIFA headquarters in Zurich earlier in the day for seven hours with no breakthrough achieved and little hope for a compromise.

"Israel didn't even come up with any serious argument," he said. "I don't think there will be any agreement."

Rajoub said the PFA continues to "trust" FIFA and will wait for the body's council to make a definitive ruling on the dispute, which could come when the council meets next in January.

But if FIFA drags its feet or fails to stand up to the Jewish state, Rajoub vowed to take the fight further.

"If they are not going forward, we can go to the CAS," he said referring to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland, which generally has the final say in major sport disputes.

"We will not give up. We will never accept any compromise," he vowed.

The PFA call is one of several anti-Israel initiatives at FIFA. A group of 66 members of the European Parliament recently signed a letter calling on FIFA Director 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”.

Last year 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.




top