FIFA Postpones Israeli Football Verdict in Response to Demands from Palestine

May 20, 2024 | International | 0 comments

Tension escalated at FIFA’s annual congress in Bangkok on Friday as the future of Israeli football’s international participation was hotly debated. Palestinian Football Association president Jibril Rajoub passionately called for FIFA to suspend Israel from global competitions, citing the severe impact of Israel’s military actions in Gaza, which he claimed resulted in the deaths of over 250 Palestinian athletes. Rajoub urged FIFA to “stand on the right side of history.”

Drawing parallels to FIFA’s past actions against countries involved in conflicts, such as Russia, Apartheid-era South Africa, and Yugoslavia, Rajoub questioned whether FIFA considers some wars and victims more significant than others. He also reiterated his opposition to the six teams from Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory, arguing this violates FIFA regulations.

Israeli Football Association president Shino Moshe Zuares rejected Rajoub’s demand as a “cynical political and hostile attempt to harm Israeli football.” Zuares pointed out the impact of ongoing hostilities on Israeli football and mentioned the plight of 130 Israelis held captive. He expressed hope for a future friendly match between Israeli and Palestinian players as a symbol of reconciliation.

Amid these conflicting viewpoints, FIFA president Gianni Infantino acknowledged the seriousness of the issue but stressed that football should promote unity rather than division. He postponed the decision on Israel’s suspension until July to allow time for FIFA to seek external legal advice and consult with both associations.

Infantino promised an “extraordinary” FIFA Council meeting before July 20 to address the matter, following a thorough legal review of the claims from both sides. The council’s decision will be crucial in determining the future of Israeli football’s international participation.

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