Israeli soccer fans. (Yaakov Naumi/Flash90) Yaakov Naumi/Flash90)
Israeli soccer fans

Soccer’s international governing body has turned down another Palestinian demand to jettison Israel from its ranks.

The world’s governing body for soccer,  Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), has turned down another Palestinian demand to remove the Israeli Football Association (IFA) from its ranks.

FIFA ruled against a motion submitted by the Palestinian Football Association (PFA) requesting official recognition of the PFA’s rights under FIFA bylaws on the grounds that the Israel-Palestinian conflict is a complex political dispute unrelated to football.

Such a move would have Israeli teams based in Judea and Samaria declared teams originating from “occupied territory” and would require the IFA to expel them or face a penalty itself.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino tried to resolve the issue through talks, but finally stated that “we see there where our limits unfortunately are,” noting, perhaps hyperbolically, that disputes in the region date back “10,000 years.”

“Football is not going to solve them either, I am afraid,” Infantino said.

Council members decided that “interference by FIFA in the (soccer) status quo in these territories … could have an aggravating effect on the current circumstances.”

The World Jewish Congress (WJC) on Friday welcomed the decision.

The WJC’s says its efforts on the matter spanned several diplomatic spheres.

WJC President Ronald Lauder met with the chairman of the FIFA Israel-Palestine Monitoring Committee, Tokyo Sexwale, to pressure him to drop the Palestinian bid, and the two spoke a number of times subsequently in follow-up.

Lauder and Sexwale agreed that FIFA should serve as an instrument for bringing nations together. Sexwale also expressed last week at the WJC National Community Directors Forum in Cape Town his wishes of a peaceful solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

WJC CEO and Executive Vice President Robert Singer called FIFA’s ruling “a significant precedent which sends a strong message that international organizations should be used to build bridges, not to create divides. There is no place in sports for cynical political campaigns or unwarranted bias.”

“We hope that this puts an end to the PFA’s misguided actions, and that other international organizations will follow FIFA’s lead,” Singer said.

The WJC also reiterated its support for organizing a friendly football match between Israel and the Palestinians, under FIFA’s auspices, to encourage dialogue and cooperation, in accordance with the fundamental values of the association.

This is not the first time Arab entities have tried and failed to undermine Israel through FIFA.

The Palestinians have utilized FIFA several times over the past year as a platform for undermining Israel.

The PFA is headed by Jibril Rajoub, who served time in an Israeli prison for terrorism.

“Any activity of normalization in sports with the Zionist enemy is a crime against humanity,” Rajoub stated in 2014.

In 2012, slamming the idea of organized sports activities with Israelis, Rajoub stated on PA TV that he would bring Arabs by helicopter to events instead of crossing through Israel, “so they will see no Jews, no Satans, no Zionist sons of bitches.”

By: United with Israel Staff