FIFA could vote on whether to suspend Israel from world football’s governing body over claims that it discriminates against Palestinian footballers. The Palestine Football Association (PFA) says the Israeli FA has violated rules relating to racism, players’ free movement and where clubs are based. It has requested the vote at the next FIFA congress on 29 May. Suspension would mean Israeli teams would not be able to take part in the Champions League and Euro 2016. The matters were on the agenda in both 2013 and 2014, but compromises meant it never went to a vote.
The Palestinians have raised three major complaints:
- Palestinian players and officials are routinely restricted in their movement, making it difficult to play matches
- Five clubs play in the Israeli league that are located in settlements in the occupied West Bank
- They say the Israeli Football Association (IFA) is turning a blind eye to racism
The Israeli federation has said it cannot be held responsible for restrictions imposed by the state of Israel, which frequently limits Palestinians’ movement or holds up the delivery of goods because of security concerns. “I don’t think there is any football association around the world which can tell its government how to deal with security issues, including the Israeli Football Association,” said IFA chief executive Rotem Kamer. PFA chief Jibril Rajoub said: “We will never, ever accept any compromise, any agreement or deal outside the Congress. “If the other side insists on causing us suffering, we are not using violence or weapons, we are using the legal leverage of the FIFA statutes. This is nothing to do with politics, this is a sport issue.” FIFA president Sepp Blatter discussed the issues with Israel prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday, before meeting Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and Rajoub on Wednesday. Rajoub said the PFA will keep its proposals on the FIFA congress agenda. Blatter said he had proposed that FIFA organise a “peace match” between the Israeli and Palestinian national teams in Zurich. He claimed Netanyahu had promised to attend the event if it went ahead.