By Andrew Warshaw
May 12 – Frustrated and angered by FIFA’s constant delaying tactics, the Palestine Football Association (PFA) is taking their case for a resolution to football’s Middle East crisis to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
Twenty-four hours after being rebuffed by the FIFA Congress where Gianni Infantino took a unilateral decision to block a PFA proposal for Congress to discuss a long-overdue report on six Israeli clubs playing in the occupied territories, the PFA said it was going to sport’s highest court “because we consider the way in which our proposal was overthrown by Mr. Infantino illegal, and an additional violation of the FIFA Statutes and standing orders of the congress.”
Infantino’s move reportedly followed a personal phone call made to him by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asking for the item to be removed from the Congress agenda, thereby ruling out a vote to sanction Israel for allowing its league to include the six teams that are based in West Bank settlements.
The PFA wanted a debate on the “official recognition of the Palestinian Football Association’s entitlements to all of its rights as described in the FIFA Statutes” and specifically the report of FIFA’s chief Middle East negotiator Tokyo Sexwale that had been the subject of a separate meeting on Tuesday between the various parties but which broken up without agreement.
Instead, after both PFA chief Jibril Rajoub and his Israeli FA opposite number had taken the floor to defend their individual positions, Infantino suddenly took it upon himself to force through a hastily conceived counter-proposal calling for any decision to be delayed once again, first to March next year, then after a moment’s reflection to this coming October, so that Sexwale’s report could be further “consolidated”
That infuriated the Palestinians.
“We are disappointed that FIFA has decided to allow political pressure to win over the FIFA statutes,” the PFA said, adding that the mandate of Sexwale’s Monitoring Committee was supposed to end with the presentation of his report to FIFA’s full membership.
“We fear Mr. Infantino’s action of today has set a precedent where governments decide the agenda for a FIFA congress, and violations of the statutes and misuse of its legal devices become so common in a way that encourages those who allow football to be used as a tool to normalize oppression.”
“We will pursue the matter in the Court of Arbitration in Sport (CAS) because we consider the way in which our proposal was overthrown by Mr. Infantino illegal, and an additional violation of the FIFA Statutes and standing orders of the congress.”
One option in Sexwale’s draft report was that Israel be given six months to stop the relevant teams playing where they are – or face potential consequences. Israel argues that FIFA rules are not applicable as there is no permanent border so not surprisingly Thursday’s ruling was hailed in the country as a victory for their position, fuelling the divisions even more.
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