RAMALLAH: Palestine has submitted a resolution to FIFA Congress in May demanding the suspension of Israel from world football writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Consideration for inclusion in the agenda for May 29 in Zurich meant the resolution had to be submitted before the end of this month.
The proposal follows the failure of a FIFA task force, over the last two years, to achieve any significance change in the dispute over the freedom of movement of athletes and sporting goods.
Last year, on the eve of congress in Sao Paulo, the promise of further efforts to improve matters was enough to persuade the Palestinian Football Association, reluctantly, to withdraw a similar demand.
However Jibril Rajoub, head of both the PFA and the Palestinian Olympic Committee, has finally run out of patience.
The resolution calls for the suspension of Israel until:
1, Players, staff and officials can move freely into, out of and within Palestine;
2, football equipment can be imported without hindrance;
3, Football facilities can be developed in Palestine without hindrance;
4, Clubs established in the illegal settlements in the West Bank are banned from playing in Israel Football Association competitions; and
5, The IFA takes firm action to eliminate racist and apartheid practices from its own leagues.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter appealed twice in the past week for efforts to keep politics out of sport. The Palestinians insist that responsibility for bringing politics into this sporting arena is borne by the Israeli government and its security services.
Israel is a member of the European federation UEFA while Palestine is a member of the Asian Football Confederation.
Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, the AFC president, recently declared his commitment to tackling the “illegal Israeli practices” hindering Palestinian football.
Israel’s hosting of UEFA’s European Under-21 finals in 2013 was considered provocative by the Palestinians and sparked demonstrations around the European federation’s congress in London a few weeks beforehand.
UEFA president Michel Platini stated then that Israel had the same right as every other member to host a tournament. He used the same argument in reverse: to bar Israel from playing host, or withdraw the tournament, would have meant giving it to political pressure.
Suspension from FIFA by congress would need a three-quarters majority, ie, 156 of the 209 members.