Israel hunt for allies but will be on the defensive at FIFA’s Bangkok Congress

April 19 – The campaign to have Israel thrown out of FIFA over the Gaza crisis will be stepped up at the world governing body’s annual congress next month.

The Palestine Football Association is urging FIFA’s 211 member federations, when they meet in Thailand, to impose “appropriate sanctions, with immediate effect, against Israeli teams” on the grounds of human rights and humanitarian law violations.

“All the football infrastructure in Gaza has been either destroyed or seriously damaged, including the historic stadium of Al-Yarmuk,” the Palestinian FA motion says.

Article 4 of the FIFA statutes strictly prohibits “discrimination of any kind against a country … or group of people” on any grounds, and says any breach of this non-discrimination obligation is punishable by “suspension or expulsion”.

The latest call to punish Israel is unlikely to gain sufficient support. UEFA’s 55-member block seem certain to reject it whilst a cooperation deal was signed last week between Israeli officials and Conmebol.

But the Palestinians cite the example of Russian teams being banned from international competitions by FIFA and UEFA during the military invasion of Ukraine that started in February 2022.

PFA leader Jibril Rajoub (pictured) urged FIFA at the congress in 2015 and 2017 to sanction Israel for incorporating into its national leagues teams that played games in the occupied West Bank.

The latest proposal again cites Israel’s “violation of the FIFA Statutes manifest in its continued inclusion of football teams located on the territory of another association (Palestine) in its national league.”

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