Sport Palestinian football chief firm on Israel’s FIFA suspension

Palestinian football chief firm on Israel’s FIFA suspension

FIFA President Sepp Blatter (R) and Palestinian FA chairman Jibril Rajoub
FIFA President Sepp Blatter (R) and Palestinian FA chairman Jibril Rajoub

The head of the Palestinian Football Association reinforced his call for Israel to be suspended from FIFA on Thursday, saying the Israeli Football Association was part of an “apartheid, racist government” that was damaging Palestinian soccer.

The PFA accuses Israel of obstructing its activities and restricting the movement of players between the Gaza Strip and the Israeli-occupied West Bank. It wants a vote on Israel’s suspension from FIFA at a congress on May 29.

“The Israeli federation is behaving as a part of the brutal, racist occupation,” Jibril Rajoub, a former politician who has headed the PFA since 2008, told reporters in the West Bank.

“The Israeli Football Association is not innocent … The Israel FA has failed to take a stance against its government’s policy to hinder the development of Palestinian football.”

If FIFA were to suspend Israel, its teams and clubs would be barred from international events, including World Cup qualifications.

Although suspensions are not uncommon, FIFA has usually taken such action only when a government is deemed to have intervened in its soccer association’s affairs.

On Wednesday, Israel’s top soccer administrators met FIFA President Sepp Blatter in Zurich to try to avert the vote.

Afterwards, FIFA said Blatter had “reiterate