Israeli Football Chiefs Prepare to Fight Palestinian FIFA Ban Call

Israeli Football Association to discuss call with FIFA, UEFA.

David Bachar

Worried Israeli football chiefs are preparing to fight a Palestinian proposal to have their Football Association suspended from FIFA next month and will meet top officials in Switzerland in the coming week.

"Our understanding is that (Israel's suspension) will be put to a vote and we are preparing for it with everybody we need," Israeli FA (IFA) chief executive Rotem Kamer told Israel's Army Radio on Sunday.

He said the IFA was told that the Palestinian proposal would be on the agenda at the FIFA Congress in Zurich next month and he and IFA chairman, Ofer Eini, would discuss the matter with European football's governing body UEFA on Monday and senior officials at its world counterpart FIFA in a week's time.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter said this month he would try to persuade the Palestine FA to withdraw the proposal when he met the association's president, Jibril Rajoub, in Cairo.

Rajoub has accused Israel of continuing to hamper his FA's activities and is frustrated at restrictions he says Israel imposes on the movement of athletes between the Gaza Strip and the Israeli-occupied West Bank, and has raised a number of other issues.

Israel cites security concerns for restrictions it imposes in the West Bank, where the Palestinian Authority exercises limited self-rule, and along the border with the Hamas Islamist-run Gaza Strip.

But it says it has eased travel for Palestinian athletes between the territories, which requires passage via Israel.

Two years ago, Blatter established a task force which included himself, the Israeli and Palestinian football chiefs and the heads of the European and Asian football confederations, to examine the Palestinian complaints and try to resolve them.

Last year, Blatter persuaded Rajoub to drop a similar call at the FIFA Congress in Sao Paulo ahead of the World Cup in Brazil.

Last month, however, Rajoub said he had lost patience, and called on FIFA to show Israel "the red card".

The Palestinian draft resolution calls for Israel's suspension because its actions "inhibit our ability to develop the game".

The IFA's Kamer said: "There is a wish by all the official parties to get this off the agenda, nobody wants to involve politics... UEFA and FIFA understand this but we have to be prepared for the day of judgement, we can't just leave it to chance."

"They need a 75 percent majority, 209 associations will vote but it could happen. If Israel is suspended, all its international activities will come to a halt," he added.