Israel out of FIFA

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On 29 May, the head of the Palestinian Authority’s Football Association, Jibril Rajoub, withdrew a motion calling on FIFA’s congress to suspend Israel from the association. He did so despite repeated statements that nothing would stop him from pursuing the ban. Angry protests on the West Bank and in Gaza followed his unilateral decision. An online petition demanding his sacking states that ‘This decision has caused enormous damage to the Palestinian cause and sports…The Palestinian people need serious leaders who are capable of achieving the right to self-determination’. His action also pulled the carpet from under Football Against Apartheid, an international campaign calling for the exclusion of Israel from all international football which noisily lobbied the congress in support of the Palestinian motion.

Earlier in the month, Israel and its allies had failed to remove the motion from the FIFA congress agenda. According to Ha’aretz, the Zionist Foreign Ministry was ‘waging a worldwide campaign’ involving ‘talks with sports ministers and heads of soccer federations in more than 100 countries’. FIFA President Sepp Blatter’s response had been to call for a ‘peace match’ between Israel and Palestine. Palestinians have rejected similar calls in the past because it would involve normalising relations with the occupation regime.

Despite Rajoub’s treachery, there is growing international support for a boycott of Israel; a sporting boycott could be an important part of this movement.

Boycott apartheid Israel!

Louis Brehony

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 245 June/July 2015