ZURICH: Sepp Blatter is expected to fly to Israel on Tuesday to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a last-ditch attempt to prevent Palestine taking their sporting grievances to FIFA Congress writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
The president of the world football federation is under heavy pressure after the PFA put down a resolution to congress in Zurich on May 29 demanding that Israel be suspended from world football in the saga over freedom of movement of athletes, officials and sporting goods.
Ahead of congress in Mauritius in 2013 and Soo Paulo last year Blatter managed to avert congress trouble by endorsing the creation of an ad hoc liaison commission. However PFA president Jibril Rajoub has run out of patience.
Rajoub and Israeli football president Ofer Eini met at Blatter’s request this past week in Zurich but without any sign of a breakthrough. The IFA has always insisted that its hands are tied by the operational strategy and activties of the Israeli government and security services.
Blatter has insisted that the Israeli federation itself has not committed any breach of statutes. Both Palestinian and Israeli sporting officials have blamed each other for mixing politics with sport.
This prompted Blatter’s decision to engage in this coming week’s shuttle diplomacy little more than a week before he seeks re-election at FIFA Congress for a fifth term in office.
After meeting Netanyahu and Israeli sports officials Blatter will travel to the West Bank to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.