FIFA is turning a blind eye to Israel's ban on allowing Palestinians to hold matches as part of the Palestine Cup, Euro-Mediterranean Human Right Monitor said yesterday.
In a statement, the rights group said that the Israeli authorities continue to ban 30 players from the Rafah Team in Gaza to play the final match of the Palestine Cup against the Balata Youth Team in occupied West Bank city of Nablus. This, it continued, is a violation of international law and of the FIFA principles which stress "the right to play".
The two teams played the home leg on 30 June in Rafah and the return leg was planned to take place in July.
According to the Euro-Med, the Israeli occupation prevents footballers from Gaza travelling to the West Bank over security claims, stressing that this is "merely a political cover for the [Israeli] collective punishment practiced against the Gaza Strip."
Palestinians hold a series of matches every year and teams from Gaza and West Bank play against each other in both areas of the occupied Palestinian territories until they reach the final of the Palestine Cup, which is recognised by FIFA.
Euro-Med reported that Israeli restrictions on Palestinian athletes "have been increasing", with occupation forces stopping the bodybuilding and volleyball teams from taking part in international tournaments.