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Israel to lobby FIFA against banning clubs in illegal settlements

Image of a protest calling on FIFA to suspend Israel's membership [File photo]
A protest calling on FIFA to suspend Israel's membership [File photo]

Israel is launching a diplomatic offensive against Palestinian calls for FIFA to ban football clubs based in illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, an unnamed official said today.

The Palestinian Football Association (FA) will attempt once again to bring a motion to ban six Israeli football clubs during the world football governing body’s congress in Bahrain, scheduled for May.

Calls by the Palestinian FA to ban the Israeli clubs were taken off the table at the last moment three times over the past four years following Israeli efforts to block the motion.

Contravening laws

FIFA rules state that a national association can operate clubs in the territory of another national association only with its consent, which Palestine has not granted.

Both Israel and Palestine are FIFA members and allowing six Israeli teams, which are based in illegal settlements to take part in FIFA games, contravenes both international law and the Statutes of FIFA by which global football is governed.

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Palestinian flags flown in this photo taken during Celtic match despite UEFA threats.

Palestinian flags flown in this photo taken during Celtic match despite UEFA threats.

Palestinian leaders have been demanding that the Israeli federation be suspended from world football unless it orders the six clubs to relocate to within Israel’s internationally recognised borders.

However, an unnamed Israeli official, reported France24, said that Israel would seek to have the issue removed once again from May’s agenda.

Dozens of Israeli ambassadors have received instructions to engage in dialogue with FIFA delegates in the countries where they are posted to counter the unacceptable attempt by the Palestinians to politicise sport

the Israeli official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Earlier this month, Palestinian football chief Jibril Rajoub renewed calls for FIFA to exclude Israel from international competition until clubs playing in the occupied territories are barred.

Rajoub said that maintaining the status quo would be a violation of the world body’s statutes.

He added that he was disappointed with the options put forward by FIFA to end this illegal situation and that he would “prefer that we go right away to sanctions and to suspension [of the Israeli federation]”.

Palestine has been a member of FIFA since 1998 and plays in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).

Israel plays in Europe having been expelled from the AFC in 1974.

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