Tomorrow, FIFA will come to a decision on whether they will suspend Israel’s football association after the Palestinian Football Federation filed a complaint on Israeli abuse towards Palestinian footballers. For years, Palestinian footballers have been subject to physical harassment, including beatings, detentions and chanting racist abuse in football matches.
Independent Jewish Voices (IJV) has joined Palestinians and Israeli peace groups to support the suspension of Israel’s football association. They reiterated the need to bring justice to the many Palestinian players that have had their passion for football demonised by the fascist sentiments in Israeli football, along with their previous activism in regards to the issue.
The head of FIFA, Sepp Blatter recently met an ICAHD activist, Jeff Halper who briefed Blatter on some of the abuses Palestinians have received which include:
- The Israeli government has regularly detained members of the Palestinian team from traveling to international bouts. Last week, not hours after Israeli leaders promised Blatter to facilitate travel, they detained a leading player, Sameh Maraabah.
- The Israeli Football Association has refused to take even the smallest steps to curb racism in Israeli football. The most egregious behaviour is by the team Beitar Jerusalem, which has an open policy of not hiring Arab or Muslim players, even from abroad. Its fans are sadistic and insulting to Palestinian players on other teams and regularly chant “Death to Arabs” after Beitar goals.
- The Israeli government regularly prevents players from Gaza from joining team-mates on the West Bank, and has deliberately jailed others, holding one player incommunicado and without charges or trial for three years.
- Two teenaged Palestinian players were shot in the legs and feet by the Israeli Defence Forces, a particularly targeted punishment for soccer players. Needless to say, they will never play serious soccer again.
- Three team members were killed in the 2012 Operation Cast Lead and the team’s soccer stadium in Rafah, Gaza and the federation’s headquarters were bombed during that incursion.
- A teenaged Palestinian soccer star, Mohammed al-Qatari received an IDF bullet straight to the chest while protesting Israel’s last war in Gaza.
- Petition demands FIFA suspend Israel’s membership
- Samira Shackle: FIFA’s critical vote on Israel
- Yvonne Ridley: The Beautiful Game does not belong to murderous killjoys like Netanyahu
- Ben White: Israel fears FIFA red card, as Palestinians’ campaign gains momentum
- Palestinians: ‘Conditions not ready for a peace match with the Israelis’
- Palestinian Authority: ‘FIFA visit to Palestine a chance to sue occupation’
- Palestinian football body will continue with lawsuit against Israel
- Ramona Wadi: FIFA’s collaboration with colonialism
Note: this item was updated at 10.44 BST on May 29, 2015 to clarify that Jeff Halper is an activist with the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD).