Sports and Politics

Palestinian Soccer Chief Calls on FIFA to Expel Israel

After Jerusalem refuses to let Arab players, coaches into West Bank, Jibril Rajoub says: 'Give Israel the red card.'

The Palestinian Football Association yesterday called on world soccer’s governing body to expel Israel from its ranks, claiming that Jerusalem has barred several Arab youth teams into the Palestinian territories.

“We ask FIFA for a red card, because the yellow card has been raised now for a long time,” PFA chief Jibril Rajoub told reporters in the West Bank city of Ramallah. “We are clinging to the red card to take away the Israeli occupation’s legitimacy and we will not accept any compromise,” he added.

According to Rajoub, Israel denied representatives of the West Asian Football Federation, which includes 12 Arab national football associations, permits to enter the Palestinian territories to play in the WAFF Under-17’s Championship, that was due to begin last night.

Three managers of the Jordanian football union, two UAE representatives and 13 managers and players from Iraq were refused entry, he said.

Rajoub said that that WAFF was contacting FIFA and the European football federation, UEFA, to which Israel also belongs, to “put pressure on Israel to issue the necessary permits” for the tournament to go ahead. Israel was due to supply permits for all the teams by August 10.

FIFA has promised to discuss the issue and a UEFA spokesman said the organization will issue a statement on the matter within 48 hours. The Palestinian Authority is also due to host the WAFF Under-21’s Youth Championship in the first week of October.

Last month, FIFA president Sepp Blatter said during a visit to Israel and the PA that he will establish a task force to address Palestinian concerns over travel restrictions for soccer players and officials through border crossings controlled by Israel.

Reuters