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More than 100 sports organisations urge FIFA to expel Israeli settlement-based clubs

Image of a protest calling on FIFA to suspend Israel's membership to the football federation in Ramallah, West Bank on 29 May 2015 [file photo]
Image of a protest calling on FIFA to suspend Israel's membership in Ramallah, West Bank on 29 May 2015 [file photo]

More than one hundred sports associations, trade unions, human rights organizations and faith based groups, representing millions of people from 28 countries across the globe, on Wednesday joined football champions, scholars, film directors, politicians and government officials in calling on FIFA’s Council members to insist that Israel’s national football league revoke the affiliation of seven clubs based in illegal Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian territory, or face suspension from FIFA.

Signatories delivered their letter to FIFA Council members ahead of FIFA’s upcoming 67th Congress on May 10-11, 2017. They include former UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk, former Brazilian Minister for Human Rights Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, South African Communist Party Central Committee Member and Minister of Sports & Recreation Thulas Nxesi (signed in his personal capacity), renowned British filmmakers Ken Loach and Paul Laverty, former Peruvian football champion Juan Carlos Oblitas Saba and former athlete and President of Peru’s Congress Daniel Fernando Abugattás Majluf, and the Brazilian trade union CUT with over 7.4 million members.

The letter criticizes FIFA for repeated delays and selective enforcement of its own rules, which prohibit any member federation from holding matches on the territory of another without the latter’s approval. The Israeli national league is clearly violating FIFA’s own rules by holding matches in occupied Palestinian Territory, against the wishes of the Palestinian federation.

Juan Carlos Oblitas Saba, the Athletic Director of the Peruvian Football Federation and a retired football champion who represented Peru dozens of times on the international stage, said, “FIFA’s position concerning human rights should be as transparent as possible, and no country can be above the United Nations’ rulings on the [Israeli] settlements invading the Palestinian Territories. I have dedicated my entire life to football, I have never intervened in politics, but this goes beyond the pale, especially with respect to the rights and dignity of the Palestinian people.”

At a recent event in Johannesburg, South African Parliamentarian and member of the South African Parliament Football Club, P.J. Mguni said: “Apartheid Israel must be banned from FIFA international events and isolated because sports boycott against inhumane and unfair sports could go a long way to restoring peace and dignity in that region especially for the Palestinian people…our fellow South Africans must understand that the international community constituted a great part of our support systems in terms of the international isolation of apartheid South Africa back before 1994. In the same manner oppressed people anywhere are part of us, so as South Africans from all corners we must really support people who are still struggling for emancipation like the Palestinians are doing under the notorious Israel apartheid state.”

Read: The farcical ‘organisation’ of settlement colonialism

Hind Awwad from the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel said, “Israel is using ‘the beautiful game’ to whitewash its violations of international law and human rights, and FIFA is shamefully standing by allowing this to happen, damaging its own reputation. FIFA must realize that Palestinian and international human rights defenders will not abandon their legitimate demand for FIFA to ultimately suspend the Israeli Football Association due to its inclusion of Israeli settlements clubs based on stolen Palestinian land, and to Israel’s routine targeting of Palestinian sports, deliberate destruction of football stadiums and arrest, torture and restriction of movement of Palestinian athletes.”

Dr Geoff Lee from Red Card Israeli Racism (UK), said, “Getting rid of racism in football will help eliminate the tragically high level of racism practiced by the Israeli state. Israeli laws, military actions and bureaucratic obstacles repress Palestinian football as well as the whole Palestinian community. Sanctions are needed to generate change. We demand FIFA sanctions Israel by suspending the Israeli Football Association from FIFA and the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), until Israel observes international law and respects the human rights of Palestinians.”

[File photo]

The letter’s signatories include the Italian Union of Sport for All (UISP), with 1.3 million members and more than 17,750 affiliated sports associations, Sport Against Violence in Iraq, organizers of the Baghdad Marathon, the Brazilian Landless Workers’ Movement representing over 1.5 million people in one of the largest social movements in Latin America, the UK charity War on Want and NGO platforms from France (40 organizations) and Norway (30 organizations).

The letter was endorsed by a number of faith based groups, including Pax Christi UK, Friends of Sabeel UK and North America, American Friends Service Committee, Lutherans for Justice in the Holy Land, United Church of Christ Palestine Israel Network, United Methodists for Kairos Response (UMKR), Episcopal Peace Fellowship Palestine Israel Network and Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East.

A number of Jewish groups have endorsed the letter, including Jewish Voice for Peace, with over 60 chapters in the United States, South African Jews for a Free Palestine, the Union of French Jews for Peace, Jews for Justice for Palestinians-UK, Sweden’s Jews for a Just Peace between Israel and Palestine and the Swiss-based Jewish Voice for Democracy and Justice in Israel/Palestine.

Tokyo Sexwale, chair of the FIFA Israel Palestine Monitoring committee set up in 2015 to resolve issues affecting the development of football in Palestine, presented a draft report on March 22, 2017. This report proposed three different ways for FIFA to resolve the issue of Israeli settlement clubs: by maintaining the status quo and risking legal action, by calling for renewed negotiations between the Israeli and Palestinian national football leagues, or by giving the Israel Football Association six months “to rectify the situation.”

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  • Brian Cohen

    The bottom line is that this is a 100% political campaign that has nothing to do with football. The Palestinians refuse to play football with Israelis and Rajoub is known for his long history of a) promoting violence and b) refusing to play the beautiful game.
    The people listed above are mostly all well-known anti-Israel fanatics who wouldn’t know a soccer ball if it hit them in the face.

    The Palestinians refuse to play the game and Rajoub himself is in violation of FIFA rules. FIFA should demand that the Palestinians and Israelis use football for peace and bridge building and actually play each other. The Palestinians refuse, and they are the ones who should be kicked out of FIFA for unsportsmanlike conduct.

    • Helen4Yemen

      “Palestinians and Israelis use football
      for peace and bridge building and
      actually play each other.”
      . . .
      Palestine is no Ashkenazi grandmother’s land, is it?
      The Ashkenazi is holding on tight to Palestine just
      as a rapist does using massive force. You do need
      to tell me why can’t this white man now colonizing
      Palestine go home and live in peace in his motherlands
      of Ukraine, Poland, Russia, Germany, Lithuania …?
      What do the Arabs owe this white man from Europe?

      • neluroman

        Maybe you better should explain to the world this: Why is is that from all the people who have lived in the Middle East for centuries, only Jews and Kurds (they effectively don’t have a country) to have no any right to a country of their own in Middle East and, Palestinians ( the Arabs you call Palestinians), a people “invented” in the last decades, to have such a right? Really why? I know, you are in “silencio stampa” in regard of me. However, you no need to answer me, answer the world.

        • Helen4Yemen

          90% of world Jewry is totally European! Why not erect his state where 99.9% of his DNA is from: EUROPE! Does DNA lie?

          At 0% ancestry ties to Palstine but at 99.9% ancestry to Europe, what is the Ashkenazi doing on Arab land? I thought Hitler had been dead for decades? Why not go home to where your 99.9% of your DNA is from?

          Tony Kushner DNA
          97.5% Ashkenazi
          0.1% Finnish
          0.1% Scandanvian
          2.2% Broadly European
          0.1% East Asian
          99.9% European
          0.0% Middle Eastern

          Rabbi Hammerman DNA
          97.2% Ashkenazi
          0.8% East European
          0.2% Southern European
          1.7% Broadly European
          0.1% Native American
          99.9% European
          0.0% Middle Eastern

          Joseph Cohen DNA
          96.2% Ashkenazi
          0.4% Eastern European
          0.1% N. European
          0.1% SouthernEuropean
          3.0% Broady European
          0.1% East Asian
          0.1% Unassigned
          0.0% Middle East
          99.8% European
          0.0% Middle Eastern

          Alan Dershowitz DNA
          98. 5% Ashkenazi
          0.4% Southern European
          0.1% Balkan
          0.9% Broadly European
          0.1% East Asian
          99.9% European
          0.0% Middle Eastern

          • Brian Cohen

            Helen – making up imaginary numbers makes you look like a fool. The fact is that the majority of Jews in Israel are Sephardic Jews, not Ashkenaz. Shows what kind of a racist buffoon you are.

            If you are trying to send people “home” to where they come from, that I guess you agree that any Palestinian with the name “Al Masry” should be sent packing, write? Not to mention all those Palestinian clans with other names that clearly and factually are from Europe or elsewhere in the middle east.
            You sound like one of those radical right-wing skinheads who think that Jews all come from Siberia and Germany. But no, you sound like you would be happy to stick an AK-47 into a Yemeni Jew’s gut and tell him to march back to Sana and say hi to the Houtis.

            Jew-hating racists like you are a dime a dozen….you can’t even get your disinformation right.

          • Helen4Yemen

            Ancestry dot com states that the Ashkenazi are on average 96% Ashkenazi. Yes, there is a genetic group called “Ashkenazi” (23andme) or “European’-Jewish (ancestry dot com). In fact, the only other group that is pure European are the Irish at 95% Irish. For both the Irish and the Ashenazi, the remaining % comes from other parts of Europe. Talk is cheap. Why not provide a link to an Ashkenazi DNA report where he has scored even 1% Middle East DNA? There are none – or else prove me wrong an post one.

            Please understand that the Ashkenazi DNA is always under Europe

            Northwestern European
            a) British & Irish
            b) Finnish
            c) French & German
            d) Scandinavian
            Southern European
            a) Balkan
            b) Iberian
            c) Italian
            d) Sardinian
            Eastern European

            Ancestry. com
            Europe East
            Europe West
            European Jewish
            Finland-Northwestern Russia
            Great Britain
            Iberian Peninsula


            (replace * with dot)

          • Brian Cohen

            Wow, Helen, did you not take your meds this year?
            Did you miss that fact that the majority of Israelis are Sephardic Jews who are from the Middle East?
            You are one weird warped individual and I’ll bet you a six-pack of Guinness that you don’t even play football, let alone watch it.
            The bottom line is that Jibril Rajoub is a racist facist who is hijacking FIFA for political purposes, and not to play the beautiful game. You yourself are so full of seething hatred that the idea of Israelis and Palestinians playing a football match for peace would make you retch.
            It’s all about football, Helen dear. You know? Sports? Build bridges? Make peace? Use football to make the world better?
            But you sound like you are so opposed to building bridges I’ll bet you’d show up at a Palestine-Israel football match to break it up and make sure it wouldn’t happen. You and Rajoub. Full of hate and spite and against peace and football.
            Seriously, Helen, the story is about FOOTBALL, not ashkenazic yids. FOOTBALL. Playing the game. Making friends. Building bridges. Making peace.

          • Helen4Yemen

            1) You did not dispute the genetic results that confirm that the Ashkenazi is 0% Middle Eastern and 99.9% European, did you?

            2) Why doesn’t the Ashkenazi build bridges in his native Europe, how is this European connected to Arab land?

            3) Now in Palestine:

            47% European Ashkenazi
            30% Spanish-Portuguese
            23% Arab Jews.

            4) The Ashkenazi is welcome to visit like the Japanese or British or anyone else but not settle his European a— where he does not belong … unless of course you can give me a good reason why this lily-white European is doing on Arab land?

          • Oliver Nelson

            Your retarded Ashkenazi is classified under Europe because they have been living there for more than 500 years. Dna studies have linked Ashkenazim,Sephardi,and Mizrahim to the middle east.

          • Helen4Yemen

            You are such a silly a s s that you do not even know that you are making an a s s of yourself! By your logic, black Americans have been living in North America for over 400 years, therefore we classify them as “Native American” or European and not as African?

          • Helen4Yemen

            What do the Ashkenazi have in common with the Eskimos?
            The are both at exactly the same level of Middle East ancestry – 0% for both.
            Why then do total strangers – the Ashkenazi – meddle in Arab affairs?
            Zionism succeeded for the simple reason that the Ashkenazi were hated in Europe and Europeans found the perfect opportunity to remove the Jews.

            Look at the link below and tell me how many of these Ashkenazi have even the slightest resemblance to the people of the Middle East? None! The Ashkenazi simply are a European people and resemble their European cousins.


            (repalce * with dot)

          • Helen4Yemen

            “”Al Masry” should be sent packing, write?” RIGHT!

          • Helen4Yemen

            How the Ashkenazi stole Yemeni babies? Google any of the following articles:

            What happened to the thousands of stolen Yemeni babies?
            1994 Yemeni Jews describe their holocaust, how Ashkenazi Europeans stole 4,500 children from immigrants
            1997 Daughter Learns Of Stolen Past, Reopening An Israeli Mystery. A Family Reunion And New Questions
            1998 The Case of a Missing Children Part Five: Sold?
            2011 A Mystery That Defies Solution
            2013 Uzi Meshulam, Who Campaigned to Probe Disappearance of Yemenite Children, Dies at 60
            2014 The tragedy of the lost Yemenite children: In the footsteps of the adoptees
            2015 Yemenite Children Affair: Families of the kidnapped speak out
            2016 Israel’s stolen children of Yemen
            2016 Israel may soon shed light on ‘stolen babies’ mystery
            2016 ‘Yemenite children affair’ awakens
            2016 Hundreds of Yemenite Children Were Abducted in State’s Early Years, Says Israeli Cabinet Minister
            2016 Wounds over missing Yemenite children open, MKs renew push for truth
            2016 The Babies From Yemen: An Enduring Mystery
            2016 A 70-year-old mystery: Yemeni Jews say young relatives were stolen in Israel
            2016 The shocking story of Israel’s disappeared babies
            2016 Israel’s Stolen Babies: Shocking Story of a Decades-old Secret
            2016 Israel’s Stolen Babies Remains the State’s Darkest Secret

          • Helen4Yemen

            The problem with you colonial leeches is that you cannot tell me who the natives are if not the Palestinians? Is it Mileikowsky (Natanyahu) of Lithuania or Arik Scheinermann (Ariel Sharon). I do not even know how to spell or pronounce your Russian, Lithuanian, Hungarian, German names. We do not know you, you are a European people from time immemorial. Does DNA lie?