Palestinian officials call on FIFA to act against Israeli settlement clubs

Published October 11th, 2016 - 04:13 GMT
FIFA President Gianni Infantino
FIFA President Gianni Infantino

Palestinian officials have called on FIFA to kick out six Israeli clubs based in West Bank settlements ahead of a key meeting of football’s governing body.

FIFA’s executive committee is meeting Thursday and Friday and is expected to discuss the issue of clubs in the Israeli football league based in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, which are considered illegal under international law.

In a letter to FIFA President Gianni Infantino seen by AFP Monday, the Palestine Football Association called on FIFA to demand the Israeli football association expel the clubs or force them to move inside Israel’s recognized borders.

It said the world football body was failing to enforce its policies on “illegal, immoral and unethical behaviour” as it was “permitting association football to be organized on the basis of an occupying power’s internationally prohibited acts”.

Israel seized the West Bank in the 1967 Six Day War in a move never recognized by the international community.

The Palestinians have long opposed the participation in the Israeli championships of the clubs, which play in Israel’s third, fourth and fifth divisions.

Infantino last week told AFP the issue was a “priority” for him and that FIFA would “try to put politics aside and talk football” to find “the best conditions for football in this region”.

Human Rights Watch said last month FIFA was “tarnishing the beautiful game” by “holding games on stolen land”.

The Israel Football Association has said sport has been “dragged from the football field into a political one” but it had faith FIFA would deal correctly with the issue.

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