FIFA president Joseph Blatter Thursday strongly denied reports that football's world governing body would consider expelling Israel if the country's forces attacked Lebanese sports facilities.
Blatter, speaking at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur after attending the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) congress, dismissed the reported expulsion threat as "completely untrue."
He was responding to a report in a the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Qabas Tuesday, which quoted AFC general-secretary Peter Velappan as saying that Blatter had told him of the threat in a meeting earlier this year.
"I wish to emphasize strongly that this is entirely without foundation," Blatter said.
"FIFA has never discussed the expulsion of the member mentioned in the report and has no plans to do so. We would never take a decision like this...it would be interference in politics," he said.
"I deny and reject totally such statements which have been attributed to me," he said.
The Kuwaiti newspaper had quoted Velappan as saying FIFA would suspend Israel in the event of an attack.
"Israel won't be so stupid as to attack Lebanon during the Asian Cup or try to destroy its sporting facilities," he said in the report.
"But if this happens Israel must know that FIFA will punish it and suspend it from the international scene."
Israel's air force recently smashed electricity facilities in Lebanon in retaliation for attacks by Lebanese-backed guerrillas opposing its occupation of the south of the country.
Israel is due to pull out of the occupied zone by July - (AFP)
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