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PFA fumes as FIFA close book on Israeli, Palestine stalemate

  • TOIFIFA
The Palestinian Football Authority has reacted angrily to world controlling football body Fifa’s decision not to intervene in the impasse between the Israeli and Palestinian football authorities.
by JACK MILNER | Nov 16, 2017

Fifa President Gianni Infantino, made the announcement at a press conference in Kolkata, India. "Fifa has decided to refrain from imposing any sanctions or other measures on either the Israel FA or the Palestinian FA," Infantino told journalists after a Fifa Council meeting.

"These territories are a concern for the international public law authorities and Fifa has to remain neutral."

Fifa then issued a statement reiterating what Infantino had said, but adding that this was a Fifa Council decision and that they would not deal with this issue and “neither would they request any other Fifa body to do so”.

The statement makes it clear: “The matter is declared closed and will not be the subject of any further discussion until the legal and/or de facto framework has changed.”

The dispute centres on six teams from lower divisions of the Israeli league, which are based in settlements on the Occupied West Bank and play their matches there.

The Palestinian Football Association (PFA) says this is contrary to Fifa statutes which state that a member country’s teams cannot play matches on the territory of another association, without permission.

The PFA has also complained that Israel hampers its activities, including limiting the movement of players between the West Bank and Gaza, and that it has barred some international travel.

Israel has cited security concerns for its actions and the Israeli FA says it is not responsible for the actions of its government.

In 2015, the PFA proposed during a Fifa Congress, that Israel be suspended from international soccer, but backed down after Fifa set up a task force led by South African politician and businessman, Tokyo Sexwale.

The Fifa statement adds that “given that the final status of the West Bank territories is the concern of the competent international public law authorities, the Fifa Council agrees that Fifa, in line with the general principle established in its statutes, must remain neutral with regard to political matters.

“Furthermore, it was agreed that any interference by Fifa in the status quo of football in the relevant territories without the consent of the parties concerned, might aggravate the situation of football, not only in the territories in question, but also in the greater region affected - which would not be in the best interests of the game.”

Jibril Rajoub, president of the PFA, has since held a press conference in Ramallah protesting the Fifa Council decision. He said Fifa had “betrayed its own principles, insulted Palestinian soccer and granted impunity to blatant violations of the Fifa statutes”.

Rajoub has vowed to challenge the decision. “We will go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and demand that Fifa honours its own bylaws, which ban teams playing in a fellow member’s land without their permission.”

 

 

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