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Palestinians call on Blatter to ask Israel to lift restrictions on Palestinian players

Arab Knesset Member Ahmed Tibi has called upon FIFA President Sepp Blatter to end the suffering of Palestinian athletes, especially footballers.

Blatter, the head of FIFA, the governing body for world football with 209 member states, is currently visiting the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel.

Palestine News Agency quoted Tibli as saying: "It is time for Israel to recognise FIFA rules and regulations, which have to be applied similarly on Palestinian and Israeli footballers."

Tibi also called for giving the Palestinians the right to be represented by their own athletic body like other footballers around the world, including Israelis.

He cited the many restrictions imposed by Israel on Palestinian footballers and called for putting an end to these "racist" measures.

Before visiting Israel, Blatter met with officials from the Palestinian Authority, including the head of the Palestine Football Association, Jibril Rajoub.

In a joint press conference, Rajoub called for placing sanctions on Israel unless it lifts restrictions on Palestinian players, referring to Israel as the "bully of the neighbourhood".

"Palestinians believe bullying should not be accepted by FIFA," the Associated Press quoted Rajoub as saying. To which Blatter replied: "I think at the Congress we should try to be in the sporting spirit and not in the spirit of punishment."

Blatter is due to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday.


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