BANGKOK: The Asian Football Confederation has thrown its support behind Palestine’s latest attempt to persuade FiFA to suspend Israel from international football because of the war in Gaza.

AFC president Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa spoke up, at the AFC’s congress in Bangkok. for the Palestine Football Association’s motion ahead of Friday’s FIFA congress, which seeks to “adopt immediate and appropriate sanctions against Israeli teams”.

Sheikh Salman, who is a vice-president of the world governing body, said: ” “The AFC is only as strong as its members and when one suffers, all its other members are affected.

“The AFC stands together with the Palestine FA, and we join them in seeking effective football-related solutions to the grievances raised by the Palestine FA in their proposal.

“We, as a football community and as a governing body of the most popular sport in the world, have a statutory commitment to uphold the FIFA and AFC objectives and take appropriate steps to prevent infringements of FIFA and AFC statutes and regulations.

“It is our duty to support the Palestine FA for a swift and effective resolution in line with the  rules, regulations and statutes of the AFC and FIFA.

“Our commitment to stand in solidarity and unity with the PFA is resolute. So many innocent lives have been lost because of this ongoing human tragedy in Palestine that has claimed the lives of more than 45,000 people, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, including at least 180 footballers, and has destroyed almost every football infrastructure in Gaza.

“Therefore, there is potential for us to play a dynamic role in standing up for human rights, including within our own sphere of operations.”

The proposal was sent by the Palestinians to FIFA on March 11 and will be discussed during the body’s annual gathering after being added to the agenda with the support of the Algerian, Jordanian, Syrian and Yemeni federations.

AFC delegates stood for a minute’s silence in remembrance of the victims of the Israel-Gaza war and were shown a video produced by the Palestine FA highlighting the destruction caused by Israeli forces.

The Palestine FA has been seeking in vain for more than a decade to have Israel expelled from FIFA.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino touched on the matter in remarks to delegates as he called for a united front in efforts to deal with issues both within and outside the sport.

Infantino, who regularly espouses the potential for football to help divisions, conceded the game’s impotence on this particular issue.

He said: “We are all suffering with what is going on in Palestine. We pray for the mothers who lose their children and we pray for the mothers who lose their children everywhere in the world.

“Football can do only very little because to change situations everywhere in the world which are tragic, all we can do is to show unity because football is what unites everyone.”

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