FIFA's Blatter 'Sad' After Israeli Soldiers Enter Palestine FA Headquarters

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Players of the Palestinian soccer team in the West Bank town of A-Ram. Credit: AP

REUTERS - The Asian Football Confederation reacted angrily on Tuesday and FIFA president Sepp Blatter said he was saddened after Israeli soldiers entered the headquarters of the Palestine Football Association.

“FIFA President Blatter was very sad to learn about an incident involving Israeli army force that happened yesterday at the headquarters of the PFA,” said FIFA in a statement.

“FIFA is committed to continuing its efforts to facilitate the relationship between the PFA and the Israel FA.”

The AFC said in a statement that its president Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa “has denounced the Israeli army’s search of the PFA headquarters in Jerusalem on Monday, describing it as intolerable and unacceptable.

“The AFC president stated that the military breaking into the PFA headquarters is a dangerous precedent that requires the international sporting family to stand together and support the PFA in standing up to the systematic violations of the Israeli authorities.

“Shaikh Salman affirmed that the AFC will start to coordinate with FIFA to study ways and mechanisms to put an end to the suffering of Palestinian football and send a tough message to the Israeli authorities to stop its attacks on various parts of the Palestinian footballing system.”

An Israeli military spokeswoman confirmed that soldiers had entered the premises because a number of people stopped for routine questioning outside the offices said their identification documents were in the building and the soldiers went in to get them.

“Soldiers went into the offices in order to gather the identification documents only, their presence was not aimed against the Palestine FA in any way,” the spokeswoman said.

FIFA set up a task force last year to try and improve relations between the PFA and the Israeli Football Association.

Soccer’s governing body has called on the Israeli government to ease restrictions on the movement of Palestinian soccer players and officials.

Palestine joined FIFA in 1998 and have qualified for the Asian Cup, which will be held in Australia in January, for the first time. Israel is a member of the European confederation UEFA.

FIFA said the Israeli FA and the PFA would meet again in December.

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