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PA Drops Proposal to Ban Israel from FIFA

Israel’s future in world soccer will be decided; pro Palestinians storm hall, throw red cards at Israeli delegation; reports of bomb scare.
589423FIFA President Sepp Blatter       Reuters

Palestinian Football Association President Jibril Rajoub is submitting an amendment to the PFA’s proposal to ban Israel from FIFA, minutes ahead of the vote itself.

The vote was not expected to reach the required majority.

Rajoub said he wanted to find a “responsible solution” to the issue, as opposed to “scoring points.”

Insisting he thinks “it is right” to ban Israel, Rajoub added that “a lot of colleagues” had expressed “how painful it is for them to hear, in this (football) family, to hear the issue of suspension.”

“The said to me… we don’t want to have the precedent of suspending” a country, he said, but added: “That does not mean I give up the right of resistance” in other ways.

Specifically, he demanded three votes: to form a committee to ensure Israel lift restrictions on Palestinian footballers’ “freedom of movement,” on “stopping racism” in football, and whether “the issue” of Israeli teams based in Judea and Samaria “go to the UN.”

“Are these territories Israeli? If they are, they have the right to play football and enjoy the game. But if not, these clubs… should be banned.”

A relieved FIFA President Sepp Blatter hailed the decision to drop the proposal to ban Israel as “a great moment.”

The Israeli Football Association Chairman Ofer Eini addressed the congress, saying he would not “point fingers” in response to the PFA’s move and instead urging the PFA to “leave politics to the politicians… and to the best for football on both sides.”

Eini proposed a joint Israeli-Palestinian-FIFA committee to resolve problems between the sides, and called on the sides to “embrace” and overcome differences.

However, he highlighted his one disagreement with Rajoub, saying he opposed “setting a precedent” by referring the issue of the five Israeli teams to the UN.

“Most of these teams are youth teams – do we really want to prevent children from playing?”

He then called on Rajoub to go up to the podium to shake his hand – a gesture Rajoub refused.

Several minutes of controversy ensued after Blatter moved to strike the motion requiring UN intervention.

The amendments passed by 90% of votes.

Earlier, the 2:30 pm return, as well as the actual vote, was temporarily halted by a bomb scare at the FIFA Congress voting hall.

“We can confirm the receipt of a bomb threat,” Zurich police have announced, according to the Independent.


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