Palestinian Soccer Chief Blasted for Dropping Bid to Ban Israel From FIFA

On social media and in the street, many Palestinians criticize Jibril Rajoub for not seeing the bid through at the FIFA Congress Friday.

Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury
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Head of Palestinian football Association Jibril Rajoub in Ramallah. Monday, May 25, 2015.
Head of Palestinian football Association Jibril Rajoub in Ramallah. Monday, May 25, 2015.Credit: AP
Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

Palestinian soccer chief Jibril Rajoub came under heavy criticism over the weekend for his decision to drop the bid to ban Israel from world soccer at the 65th FIFA Congress in Zurich, Switzerland.

The criticism was leveled by Palestinian civil society groups, expressed in social media sites and voiced on the Palestinian street, while the Palestinian Liberation Organization went as far as to call the decision a blatant violation of national principles.

Many Palestinians fear that dropping the bid will also set a precedent and lead to international pressure to withdraw other appeals to the international community.

A compromise reached on Friday at the FIFA Congress calls for the formation of a committee to look into freedom of movement of Palestinian soccer players. The committee would also look at Israeli racism and the status of Israeli league teams based in the West Bank.

The Palestinian Football Association rejected the criticism, saying that the compromise was essential as it was clear that the bid to ban Israel would not win a majority vote. An Association spokesman called the compromise an achievement for Palestine, adding that the FIFA committee will travel to the Palestinian Authority to closely monitor the issue of free movement for players.

A senior member of the Palestinian delegation to the FIFA congress told Haaretz that many countries pressured the Palestinians to drop the bid – including Arab states. He admitted that though the compromise reached is important, it does not constitute an effective accomplishment.

The Palestinian Football Association also vehemently denied reports claiming Palestine did not support the candidacy of Jordan’s Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein, who challenged Sepp Blatter for the FIFA presidency.

"These are false reports aimed at damaging the special relationship between the Palestinian Authority and the Hashemite Kingdom," officials said. They added that "Rajoub publicly voted for Prince Ali" as he recognizes Jordan's support for Palestinians sports.

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