LONDON: A campaign group which has seized on Israeli football as a target to press its concerns has launched a petition reiterating its demand for the suspension of the state’s football association by FIFA.
Red Card Israeli Racism said, in a statement, that it wanted the world federation to act “until Israel respects the human rights of Palestinians and observes international law.”
On January 31 two young Palestinian footballers were shot by Israeli soldiers while on their way home from training in the central West Bank. Jawhar Nasser Jawhar, 19, and Adam Abd al-Raouf Halabiya, 17, have been told they are unlikely to play again.
Last year the campaign group opposed Israel’s hosting of the 2012 European Under-finals and drew support from the likes of filmmaker Ken Loach and Nobel peace laureate Desmond Tutu.
The new petition claims Israeli state policies, “implemented by its civil and military forces, deny Palestinians the right to play and compete, nationally and internationally.”
The text adds: “It is now time for sports initiatives to add their voice . . . [to] commercial and cultural actions worldwide . . . demanding an end to Israel’s repressive policies.”
Jibril Rajoub, president of both Palestine’s Football Association and its national Olympic committee has threatened repeatedly to call on FIFA congress in Sao Paulo in June to suspend the IFA.
FIFA and the Asian and European federations are currently leading a mediation process to improve communication between the Palestine and Israel football authorities with the aim of easing access for players, officials and equipment heading to the West Bank.