Israeli national soccer team meets during practice.
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
A cross-party group of German parliamentary deputies sent a letter to the head of the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) on Wednesday, urging him to reject a Palestinian campaign to oust Israel from the sport’s organization.
“The announcement by the president of the Palestinian Football Association, Jibril Rajoub, after a failed attempt in 2015, to again submit an application to exclude the Israel Football Association, shows he is misusing the sport for his own personal ideology,” wrote the lawmakers.
The letter, which was addressed to FIFA president Gianni Infantino, was signed by the Green Party’s Volker Beck, Gitta Connemann from the Christian Democratic Union, Michaele Englemeier and Kerstin Griese from the Social Democrats and Jan Korte from the Left Party.
The deputies wrote that the connection between sport and people prevents violence and hate. “It is important that FIFA recognize that the entire Palestinian- Israeli question should be examined as a political whole whose solution cannot be a function of sport,” they said.
“The glorification of terrorism by the use of racism, antisemitism and discrimination of Israel’s teams undermines the sustainability of the FIFA statutes that call for a fair and peaceful sport,” the letter continued.
The Palestinians have sought since 2015 to compel FIFA to kick Israel out of the association because its teams play in the disputed West Bank territory.
Critics, such as the Israeli legal group Shurat Hadin, say Rajoub promotes Palestinian terrorism.
In August 2014, Rajoub, while serving as head of the PFA, said, “Fatah has decided that our relations with the Israelis are relations between enemies... am I stopping you from slaughtering a settlement? No one is stopping anyone.”
Rajoub added “If we had nuclear weapons, we’d be using them [against the Israelis].”
The German deputies concluded their letter by urging the federation to deliver a “clear rejection” of Rajoub’s efforts to oust Israel from FIFA.
“Sport should not be misused as a political game,” they wrote.