Palestinian Football Association President Jibril Rajoub (L) and FIFA President Sepp Blatter.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The president of the Palestinian Football Association Wednesday refused to withdraw his petition to expel Israel from football's governing body, vowing to continue in his efforts despite the recent scandal engulfing football's most powerful institution.
After talks with FIFA President Sepp Blatter, the top official for Palestinian football operations Jibril Rajoub told AFP that "Nothing has changed, the vote is still on the agenda," adding, "the meeting lasted about one hour, there were no results."
A member of FIFA since 1998, Palestine has complained that Israel restricts the movement of its players and opposes the participation of clubs originating from Jewish areas of the West Bank. As a result, the Palestinians insist that football's governing body expel it from the organization.
Blatter is strongly opposed to the vote, claiming that Israel is not in breach of FIFA's statutes and has even traveled to the Middle East to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and PA leader Mahmoud Abbas. According to Palestinian news agency Ma'an, Blatter is increasingly desperate to come to a resolution, especially in the wake of the recent scandal that has rocked the world of professional soccer and FIFA's top executive echelon.
On Wednesday, Swiss officials arrested six high-ranking soccer officials, including two vice-presidents of world governing-body FIFA, and are being detained pending extradition to the United States.
The Swiss Federal Office of Justice (FOJ)
did not identify which officials were arrested but confirmed that Blatter was not among them.
The FOJ said in a statement that the officials were suspected by US investigators of having received or paid bribes totaling millions of dollars.
"The US Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York is investigating these individuals on suspicion of the acceptance of bribes and kickbacks between the early 1990s and the present day," the statement said.
The vote is scheduled for Friday and needs a two thirds majority of the 209 members to succeed, according to Palestinian news agency Ma'an.
For Israel to be suspended, three quarters of delegates would need to approve the motion. Reuters contributed to this report