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FIFA’s collaboration with colonialism

Two corrupt entities – FIFA and Israel, have teamed up to ensure another request from Palestine to an international organisation is ridiculed and rejected. As the Palestine FA stated its intention to submit a draft resolution to the FIFA congress in May calling for Israel’s suspension from the international body, FIFA’s President Sepp Blatter met the Professional Football Association’s (PFA) President Jibril Rajoub in an attempt to dissuade from pursuing such an option.

Prior to the meeting, Rajoub stated, “I am going to meet Blatter in Cairo on Tuesday to discuss the draft resolution that we have requested – that either Israel honour its commitments or it will be suspended from the membership of FIFA.”

For his part, Blatter stated that the Palestinian request “shall not occur at the FIFA congress because the suspension of a federation for any reason is always something which harms the whole organisation.”

The draft resolution takes into account Israel’s creation of “five clubs in settlements on land occupied since 1967, clubs participating in Israeli national championships in violation of international law.” It also calls for the building, safeguarding and maintenance of football facilities, equipment, as well as the freedom of movement for Palestinian footballers. Israel has ensured the opposite – murdering footballers in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge last summer, as well as in the West Bank in January 2014. It has relied upon its restrictive movement policies to prevent Palestinian footballers from travelling, as well as imprisoned Palestinian footballers – with FIFA’s and UEFA’s knowledge, as in the case of Palestinian footballer Mahmoud Sarsak who was placed in administrative detention as well as tortured physically and psychologically, upon unfounded accusations of being linked to Islamic Jihad.

The Israeli Football Federation (IFA) has obviously embarked upon an alternative avenue. Its complicity as a state institution has ensured Zionist racist policy thrives within the organisation – an action that breaches FIFA’s Statute 3 that prohibits discrimination and, according to the rules, is “punishable by suspension or expulsion.”

During the 2014 World Cup held in Brazil, Israel was at the helm in providing surveillance and defence systems, systematically tested upon Palestinians to perfection and later utilised by the Brazilian government to control communities living in favelas, as well as displaced Brazilians whose homes were demolished to host the World Cup. Thousands of Brazilians were handed eviction orders – a common capitalist exploitative measure designated to preserve the lustre of a tournament that lends itself to corruption.

Understandably, Israel has not expressed any concern over Palestine’s attempt to secure rights for its citizens in the sports realm. The combination of Israel’s perpetual excuse of security concerns, the relevance of its sophisticated surveillance systems to other oppressive governments, as well as FIFA’s disapproval towards the forthcoming Palestinian draft resolution calling for Israel’s suspension, will likely safeguard Israel’s impunity even within this arena. While insisting upon what should be done clearly constitutes awareness, it seems as if power and legislation will once again thwart efforts calling for punitive measures against Israel – the reason being the constant cycle of the downtrodden appealing to the hegemony enforcing its intentional oppression.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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