October 27 – South African activists have urged their compatriot Tokyo Sexwale (pictured centre) to step down as FIFA’s chief Middle East negotiator because of the body’s distinct lack of progress in settling the footballing impasse between Israel and the Palestinians in the occupied territories, specifically the ongoing dispute over Israeli lower-league clubs playing official games on settlements in the West Bank.
Sexwale, appointed under Sepp Blatter’s regime, has been accused of foot-dragging by Palestinian sympathisers who issued their call on the eve of FIFA’s latest Congress in India.
For months, the Palestinian Football Association, European Parliamentarians and even the United Nations have been urging FIFA to follow its own statutes and stop the clubs involved from playing in the Israeli league.
A statement released by the South African-based National Coalition for Palestine read: “FIFA has delayed in taking action against the Israel Football Association and its violation of FIFA statues. Instead of acting, FIFA has continuously delayed and Sexwale is part of this delaying process. Sexwale and the FIFA Israel Palestine Monitoring Committee was meant to deliver justice, instead, it is delaying justice.”
The statement is also backed by the so-called South African Jews for a Free Palestine (SAJFP), the Muslim Judicial Council of South Africa and the Christian ecumenical group, Kairos Southern Africa.
“We, South African human rights organisations, sports bodies and activists call on fellow South African, Tokyo Sexwale, to resign from the FIFA Israel Palestine Monitoring Committee,” the groups said. “FIFA … has effectively refused to abide by its own rules and in the process displayed utter disregard for international law.”
“We are calling, firstly, for Tokyo Sexwale’s resignation. Secondly, we are calling for the FIFA Israel Palestine Monitoring Committee that Sexwale heads to be dissolved. And, thirdly, we are calling on the UN Human Rights Council to add FIFA to the list of corporations involved in the illegal Israeli settlements. We trust that Tokyo Sexwale will do the dignified thing and resign to prevent damaging his reputation further.”
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