May 27 2015
By Daoud Kuttab
The head of the Palestinian Football Federation spoke optimistically of winning the vote that the general assembly of the world soccer association FIFA will hold May 29. Three-fourths of the association’s 209 members are needed to remove a member. “I am 100% sure we will win the vote and remove the Israelis from FIFA,” Jibril Rajoub told Al-Monitor on May 21 after meeting with FIFA head Joseph “Sepp” Blatter.
Rajoub appeared to have little faith in the mediation efforts of Blatter, who had met May 19 with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Palestinians have been through this before and have in past years agreed to withdraw their efforts to kick the Israelis out only to find that travel restrictions have continued, Rajoub argued. Palestinian players, especially from the Gaza Strip, are often denied travel to the West Bank or abroad to participate in training or in games. Players from visiting teams are also sometimes denied entry, causing embarrassment to the Palestinian Football Association.
“He tried to present some new assurances about the movement of our players, but it was too little, too late,” Rajoub said.
Blatter told Palestinians that he has received new concessions from the Israelis regarding the travel issues of Palestinian players. A committee has been created, including a Palestinian, an Israeli and a FIFA representative, who meet on a monthly basis to review the situation.
“Our issue with the Israelis is not only about the movement of our players. We can’t accept that the Israeli Football Association includes five clubs from settlements and the racism in Israeli stadiums,” Rajoub said. Israeli soccer teams and their fans act and tolerate a high level of racism against Arabs in the stadiums. FIFA has a strongpolicy against racism and conducts campaigns to root it out of the game. Continue Reading »