ZURICH: FIFA president Sepp Blatter is to meet Israel football leaders in his attempt to resolve the only threat to what he expects to be a triumphant Congress in Zurich on May 29 writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
With the Qatar winter staging decided and with the bid scandal report buried in the ethics commission everything appeared all clear for Blatter to report a profitable World Cup year ahead of his own re-election for a further four-year term.
Then up popped increasingly impatient Palestinian sports boss Jibril Rajoub with a demand that congress should suspend Israel from the world game in the long-running row over travel and transport restrictions in and out of the occupied territories.
Rajoub has threatened a resolution to congress for the past two years and, each time, has allowed Blatter to placate him with promises of reviews and negotiations with the support of an ad hoc task force.
But Rajoub has had enough and has submitted a resolution for inclusion in the Congress agenda.
Blatter met Rajoub during Tuesday’s African confederation congress in Cairo.
A bland FIFA statement said: “Discussions centred around the PFA’s recent calls for a suspension of the Israel FA. At the meeting, the FIFA President recalled that his objective is to find solutions for the benefit of football development in Palestine and that football should connect, not divide.
“The issues raised by the PFA will be handled. In this regard, as a next step, the FIFA president is due to meet the Israel FA at the Home of FIFA later this month.”
Rajoub will not hold out much hope. As events of the last two years have shown, the Israeli football authorities are powerless to exert any influence over the state’s security services.
Another issue which exercised Blatter at CAF Congress was what he considers a lack of effectively tough punishments for teams and associations guilty of racism and discrimination.
He said: “We have to punish not only through fines and stadium closures but we have to use our rules to suspend teams, to take away their points or even to relegate them if racism continues.”
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