HRW: FIFA sponsoring games on 'stolen land'

Human Rights Watch criticizes FIFA for delaying decision on Judea and Samaria teams.

Elad Benari ,

Soccer (illustration)
Soccer (illustration)

Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Thursday reacted angrily to a decision by FIFA, the governing body of soccer, to delay a decision on whether to ban Israeli teams operating in Judea and Samaria.

The FIFA Congress had decided earlier to adopt the proposal of FIFA President Gianni Infantino not to vote on a proposal against the teams from Judea and Samaria. The decision was approved by a majority of 73%.

“Today’s decision to delay means FIFA will continue sponsoring games on stolen land, contrary to its statutes and human rights responsibilities,” said Sari Bashi, who is in charge of Israel and “Palestine” advocacy at HRW.

“After four years, it’s not clear why FIFA needs yet another year to decide whether or not to follow its own rules,” added Bashi.

“Infantino’s insistence on pushing through a vote to delay a determination on the settlement club issue shows he is in no hurry to put into practice his promises to bring FIFA into compliance with basic principles of good governance and human rights,” she said.

Human Rights Watch has played an active role in the attempts to have FIFA ban the six soccer clubs based in Judea and Samaria.

The efforts were spearheaded by Jibril Rajoub, head of the Palestine Football Association.

A FIFA commission chaired by South African businessman Toxky Sexwale presented several potential solutions in a report in March, but these were rejected by Rajoub.

Rajoub had previously 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.