Saturday, August 08, 2020

FIFA sets up Task Force to improve Palestinian players‘ freedom of movement

By Sam Gilbert - September 06, 2013
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Apartheid] [Football]

FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter accompanied by FIFA Vice-President HRH Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein and Palestine Football Association (PFA) President Jibril Rajoub. Photo by FIFA


Chairman of the Palestine Football Federation and the Palestine Olympic Committee, Jibril Rajoub, held a press conference on Thursday 5 September in Ramallah after returning the from the first meeting of the FIFA Special Task Force, a body set up to deal with the freedom of movement issues for Palestinian players and officialsThe meeting between FIFA president Sepp Blatter, Jibril Rajoub , and Israeli FA chairman Avi Luzon was held in Zurich on Wednesday, with the proposed goal of finding a permanent solution by the end of the year.

During the conference, Rajoub presented a concept paper published by the Palestine Football Association. The paper's proposed aim is “to establish an agreed upon modus operandi through which all issues pertaining to Palestinian and Israeli football are addressed, while fully implementing their full rights as members of the association of the international football governing body (FIFA), as per FIFA statutes.”

In a statement made to the Palestine Monitor, Rajoub, former Security Chief under Yasser Arafat, said: “FIFA should intermediate between parties. Israel wants bilateral talks, and we have seen how those have gone in the past. Israel will not recognize Palestinian soccer and Palestinian rights."

The concept paper outlines the systematic disruption of Palestinian football by the third party, Israel. These include restrictions of free movement for players and equipment inside and out of the Palestinian territories, hindering construction of new football facilities, destruction of equipment, threats and arrests of players and staff, as well as the interference of matches between Palestine and other associations. All of these activities violate the rights guaranteed by FIFA statutes, to which both Palestine and Israel are obligated.

At the FIFA congress in May, Rajoub called for sanctions against the Israeli Football Association if the situation did not improve. 

“Israel must recognize its negative outlook, its racism, and respect the statutes,”  Rajoub said.  “If not I will ask the General Assembly for sanctions/suspension of the Israeli organization. The ball is in their court.”

The next FIFA congress will be held next October.

Referring to his previous speech, Rajoub said, “There is a consensus in the general assembly about the rights of Palestinian players and Palestinian football. I received five standing ovations during my speech. All members without any exception are committed to solving these issues.”

Israel has agreed to participate in the Task force, although there is no telling what the final outcome will be.

“I want to see my footballers free and successful, and I want Israel to abide by the same statues as every other FIFA member,” Rajoub told the Palestine Monitor.

In a jab at the United Nations, Rajoub said in closing, “FIFA has the right to suspend Israel. And FIFA has no Veto!"

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