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Abbas: 'Israel is placing hurdles in the way of Palestinian sport'

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that Israel is placing hurdles in the way of Palestinian participation in sports and violating international laws and FIFA's rules.

During his meeting at Ramallah with FIFA President Sepp Blatter and FIFA Vice President Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein, Abbas said that FIFA must hold the Israeli Football Association accountable if it continues to hinder Palestinian participation in sports.

"At a time when we consider ourselves to be active FIFA members we see the government of Israel placing these hurdles in the path of our activities," he told Blatter.

Speaking to reporters, Abbas expressed his appreciation of FIFA's backing for Palestinian football, its support for Palestinian sports' infrastructure and for enabling every Palestinian to practice the sports practiced around the world.

Blatter said that the FIFA would work towards finding a solution: "We shall try, we shall find a solution – a solution that sport, is not politics, but sport – in this case we can help to solve the problem and if we are able to solve this problem it could also be a good, let's say, step to solve other problems that you have in this region."

Blatter said that he is a "self-declared ambassador of the Palestine people", and not just a friend.

Heading a FIFA delegation, Blatter arrived in Ramallah in a Jordanian helicopter coming from Amman. He is set to head to Israel today. He told reporters that he will meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Following his visit to the region, Blatter is expected to head to the FIFA congress in June in Sao Paolo, Brazil, to seek to expel Israel from FIFA, according to the head of the Palestinian Football Association Jibril Rajoub.

Rajoub had previously said that the Palestinian Football Association detected a number of Israeli practices against Palestinian sports, such as storming stadiums, shooting at athletes, attacking coaches, preventing teams from entering the Palestinian Territories and preventing athletes from traveling abroad to take part in international tournaments.

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FIFAInternational OrganisationsIsraelMiddle EastNewsPalestine
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