Israelis build political allies within Conmebol ahead of FIFA’s Congress in May

April 11 – The Israeli FA (IFA) has signed a memorandum of understanding with South American confederation Conmebol, a partnership that comes at a significant political moment. 

IFA chairman Shino Zoertz (pictured left) and IFA CEO Niv Goldstein met with Conmebol leaders in Asuncion, Paraguay, to sign the partnership that will cover development, coaching, refereeing, women’s football and youth football.

In September, Conmebol president Alejandro Dominguez (pictured right) had visited Israel.

Zoertz emphasised the historic nature of the agreement and the possibilities that it might bring to Israel in the future.

In a press release, Zoertz said: “This is a particularly exciting, historic moment, an international breakthrough for the Football Association. We signed an agreement for cooperation with giant powers, world champions, countries where football is a cornerstone, a culture.”

“Our true friendship with Alejandro Dominguez, president of Conmebol, has given birth to wonderful fruit for Israeli football.  I always come to such positions humble and curious to learn, and confident enough in what we have as an association and as a country to offer our partners. We will work hard to translate the promising agreement into a measure that will yield significant results. I really hope that the Israeli national team will be part of one of the major tournaments organised by Conmebol, perhaps the Copa America.”

In the past, Conmebol has invited teams outside the region to its flagship competition, including Japan and Qatar. The Gulf nation has been a sponsor of Conmebol through various commercial deals.

This year’s Copa America will see 16 teams from the Americas compete on US soil as the tournament returns to North America for the first time since the centenary edition in 2016. However, Israel is a UEFA member and Conmebol let it be understood that there is nothing concrete.

The press release also noted that the Israeli delegation met with FIFA president Gianni Infantino and general secretary Mattias Grafstrom and “discussed the upcoming FIFA Congress to be held in May in Bangkok and the ways in which FIFA will assist the Football Association in developing the industry in Israel and on the international level.”

In March, the Palestinian Football Association (PFA) wrote to FIFA demanding that the global governing body’s Congress consider “appropriate” sanctions against the Israeli Football Association (IFA) and its clubs because of “unprecedented international human rights and humanitarian law violations”.

It is unclear how far the PFA’s call for sanctions will carry. FIFA has not yet released the agenda for the Congress.

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