Tuesday, November 24, 2020

FIFA President Blatter calls for Israel-Palestine “peace match”

By Editor - May 20, 2015
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Football] [BDS]

FIFA President Joseph Blatter is visiting Israel and Palestine this week ahead of a May 29 FIFA congress vote in Zurich to suspend Israel from football’s international governing body.


Blatter met with Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu Tuesday and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Wednesday, as well as both country’s Football Association heads, as part of his “mission of peace.”


Blatter’s visit to the Middle East follows individuals talks with representatives of both Israel and Palestine’s football associations in an attempt to find an agreement to the PFA’s proposal to suspend the IFA from FIFA at an upcoming congress in Switzerland.


The PFA has accused Israel of hampering its football activities, saying it imposes on restrictions on the movement of Palestinian athletes between the West Bank and Gaza. The PFA also cited the limitations Israel places on Palestinian imports of sports equipment into the West Bank and Gaza, as well as visits by foreign teams, individuals, and Fifa delegations, Reuters reports.


Head of the Palestine Football Association Jibril Rajoub wrote Tuesday, that, “While Israel continues to participate in Fifa matches internationally with impunity, Palestinian football players have been shot and arrested, our football association raided by Israeli army forces, our clubs more often than not forbidden from bringing players, coaches or even materials from abroad, just as the restriction of movement imposed on our players and technical staff, within, from and to Palestine have turned the game into a real act of resistance.”


In meetings in Jerusalem Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu praised Blatter’s opposition to the politicising of the sport. “Sport is a vehicle of goodwill among nations. The thing that could destroy the Football Association is politicizing it. You politicize it once with Israel, then you politicize it for everyone, and it will cause the deterioration of a great institution,” Netanyahu said.


“One item I can tell you that I spoke about with [Netanyahu] … to arrange a match for peace between the national teams of Israel and Palestine and Fifa would be happy to organise it,” Blatter said following the meeting, according to Reuters.


Only two countries have been suspended from FIFA in the governing body’s history, Yugoslavia and South Africa. The suspension would see Israel and its teams barred from competing internationally. The motion requires majority backing at the congress in Zurich in order to be passed.


Ahead of his meeting with Rajoub in Ramallah, Blatter said he remained confident that, “we will find a solution for the benefit of football development ahead of the FIFA Congress.”


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