ZURICH: FIFA president Sepp Blatter is about to set off again on another attempt to try to explore whether it is possible to achieve any easing in the issue of Middle East sportsmen writes KEIR RADNEDGE
Two years ago Blatter visited Jordan, Palestine and Israel – as had IOC president Jacques Rogge – in an attempt to persuade Israeli security authorities to relax restrictions on the movement of both players and equipment in and out of the West Bank.
All the positive responses from the Israel Football Association were ineffective in the face of the security authorities, to the imcreasing anger and frustration of Palestine sports leaders headed by Najib Rajoub who spoke out at FIFA Congress in Mauritius in May.
Congress, in response to a proposal from the Palestinian federation, voted that Blatter should make another ‘truce trip.’
Hence tomorrow he sets off on a four-day journey to Jordan,Palestine and Israel.
The trip starts in Jordan where Blatter is set to attend the launch of a turf field partly funded by FIFA in the village of Al Turrah and open additional football turf fields and lighting initiatives in Amman’s Al Hussein Sport city within the scope of FIFA’s Goal projects. Blatter will also visit the Zaatari Refugee camp near the Syrian border.
His journey continues into Palestine on Sunday where Blatter will inaugurate further Goal projects including a turf pitch in Tulkarm, the Joseph Blatter Football Academy in Al Bireh, and the headquarters of the Palestinian Football Association in Al Ram.
The opening of FIFA’s development projects will be followed by meetings with Palestinian sports and governmental authorities.
A visit to Israel will mark the end of Blatter’s Middle East trip. In Tel Aviv and Jerusalem Blatter will hold talks with the Israel Football Association and Israel’s government.