FIFA’s 67th Congress may still debate and vote Thursday on a bid by the Palestinian Authority to oust six West Bank settlement teams from the world-wide soccer organization.
As of late Wednesday night, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association congress in Bahrain had on its agenda: “Request for official recognition of the Palestinian Football Association’s entitlements to all of its rights as described in the FIFA Statutes (proposed by the Palestinian Football Association).”
This first step, led by PFA chief Jibril Rajoub, would allow FIFA to apply to the West Bank its bylaws that prohibit teams from one national league to play on territory of another.
Such an application would place the Israel Football Association in violation of FIFA’s bylaws unless it eliminated the teams from its league.
Failure to comply with the bylaws could place the International FIFA League in danger of being ousted from FIFA.
Late Tuesday night, the FIFA Council agreed to delay the issue after listening to a report from Tokyo Sexwale, who chaired a joint Israeli-Palestinian monitoring committee that sought a solution to the matter.
Israel has argued that applying the FIFA bylaw to the West Bank places the international soccer organization in the position of determining the borders of a two-state solution, an act that is beyond it purview.
Human Rights Watch Israel and Palestine Advocacy director Sari Bashi called on the FIFA Congress to “order the IFA to stop sponsoring games in Israeli settlements. Continuing to sponsor games on stolen land is contrary to the human rights commitments FIFA so recently reaffirmed.”
World Jewish Congress president Ronald S. Lauder commended the FIFA Council for stating Tuesday night that the issue should be delayed.
“The ongoing conflict between the Israeli and Palestinian football associations is a complicated matter deserving of more time and consideration,” Lauder said.
“Politics, including the Israeli- Palestinian conflict, have no place in sport. These are issues meant for the negotiating table, not the football field.”
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