Shalom Life | May 24, 2015

Palestinian Football Association Says No to Peace Match

PFA says no to FIFA President Sepp Blatter's suggestion that they play against Israel

By: Caitlin Marceau

Published: May 20th, 2015 in Sports » World

Photo: The Israeli national team trains in Jerusalem


As we all know, the Palestinian Football Association (PFA) is trying to have Israel suspended from FIFA, claiming that they are limiting the mobility of Palestinian players, soccer equipment, and even visiting international teams. Currently, talks regarding Israel’s status in soccer are still on the agenda for the May 29th FIFA talks, despite FIFA President Sepp Blatter's insistence that suspending the country won't be beneficial for anyone.

“We will keep the proposal on the agenda (of the upcoming FIFA Congress) for sincere and open discussions by the 208 FIFA member associations,” said PFA chairman Jibril Rajoub in a FIFA press conference, as quoted by The Jerusalem Times. “There will be no compromising on free movement of our athletes and officials.”

Recently, Blatter made a visit to the West Bank to speak with Palestinian soccer officials to see if they would reconsider their motion to have Israel banned from the league. Blatter also brought with him news that Israel was willing to take steps in easing transportation for soccer players, and their equipment.

“I am an optimist,” explained Blatter in the interview, as quoted by Forward. “We want to bring a solution for now and a solution for the future in order that we don’t need to go to [a vote]. I am on a peace mission.”

Blatter also met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to see if there was a way to facilitate transport for Palestinian soccer players, as it was an issue outside of the Israeli Football Association’s control.

It was suggested by Netanyahu that Palestinian players receive specialized ID cards, and that sports liaisons be places between Palestinian/Israeli borders. In addition, Israel was willing to support a committee comprising of an Israeli official, a Palestinian official, and a FIFA official to hold monthly meeting that would address any issue between the two nations concerning soccer problems.

Despite these attempts to settle disputes, the PFA is still pushing to have Israel banned. In addition to complaints about travel difficulties, they also claim that Israel is breaking FIFA laws, international laws, and FIFA regulations.

“[It} is not just a war crime but a crystal clear violation of FIFA statutes,” claimed Rajoub, shooting down the idea of a peace match between Palestine and Israel, although he’s open to the idea at a later date.

“Yesterday, you raised a very great idea … It’s a creative idea, I like it. But we have to pave the road for that. We have to prepare the environment. But this should be an endgame. This should be a purpose for you and I urge you not to give up,” Rajoub continued in the press conference.

Although some people feel that the Palestinian soccer federation has an ulterior motive to their attempted ban on Israel, like tarnishing the nation’s reputation in a public sphere, Rajoub is insistent that this is the farthest thing from the truth. “The Palestinian federation is acting in the interests of football, in the interests of FIFA statutes and above all in the interests of the footballers of Palestine,” he said.

As reported previously, a number of Palestinian athletes have been linked with terrorism in the past, which many argue justifies Israel’s restrictive security measures.

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