April 12 – Following the death of 19 year old Palestinian player Mohammad Ali Ahmad AlGhneim at the weekend, Palestine FA president Jibril Rajoub, has written to FIFA president Gianni Infantino asking for his support to allow football to “be played and developed freely in Palestine, without the constant threat of violence”.
AlGhneim was shot in the back by Israeli forces who were called to a demonstration near his home. He was killed instantly.
Rajoub (pictured) says in his letter to Infantino that the incident occurred as was “probably preparing to depart for a match that his team, Al-Khadr, was scheduled to playagainst Beit Sahur in Hebron.”
While Rajoub makes the point that football can’t solve the conflicts of the world, he says “it can, and it does have a strong influence when it condemns injustice,and aggression.”
“Mohammad was not the first footballer to lose his life at the hands of an undiscriminating occupation, and he most probably will not be the last, but it is how the football community chooses to act against such disdain for life that can help bring change and perhaps make the list of casualties shorter,” he continued.
Palestinian football has had a long history of conflict and disruption with its Israeli neighbours.
“We are still facing the same problems that have forced us to seek the help of FIFA and the Confederations again and again; movement of players and officials toand from Gaza is still hindered. Headquarters of our clubs, football fields, and stadiums are still targeted,” said Rajoub.
“Settler violence has become a real threat to the movement of players and officials within Palestine, while the illegal settlement football clubs bask in the immunitygiven them by the choice of the football governing body to refrain from taking action against them.”
Talking of a list of issues that “grows longer still”, Rajoub said it does not “even scratch the surface of all our grievances”.
“What we are asking for is that the football community take measures to ensure that football can be played and developed freely in Palestine, without the constant threat of violence by an occupation emboldened by the absence of any measures against its violations.”
Rajoub concludes by saying: “Despite the harsh realities in our region, we remain hopeful that things will change.” He also said he looked forward to welcoming Infantino on a visit to region “hoping it will open the door for such long awaited change for the better”.
It can’t get much worse and FIFA’s support couldn’t hardly have been much less under Infantino.
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