FIFA President Sepp Blatter.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israel Football Association chairman Ofer Eini and CEO Rotem Kemer will meet with FIFA President Sepp Blatter in Zurich, Switzerland, on Wednesday to discuss the Palestinian request to suspend Israel from world soccer’s governing body.
The Palestinian Football Association’s proposal for the suspension of Israel will be on the agenda in FIFA’s annual Congress in Zurich on May 29.
The Palestinians claim that Israel has continued to hamper its soccer activities, imposing restrictions on the movement of their athletes between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
The PFA has also cited curbs Israel places on the import into Palestinian territories of sports equipment and on visits by foreign teams and individuals.
Agenda 15 on the item for the Congress in Zurich read: “Proposal by the Palestinian Football Association for the suspension of the Israel Football Association.”
Two years ago, FIFA established a task force which included its president Blatter, the Israeli and Palestinian soccer chiefs and the heads of the European and Asian soccer confederations to examine the Palestinian complaints and to try and resolve them.
Blatter said at the time that he was determined to resolve the impasse.
However, on Friday PFA President Jibril Rajoub told Reuters that nothing had improved and reiterated his claim that Israel was “persecuting Palestinian footballers, athletes and the movement of sporting equipment.”
Rajoub agreed to drop a similar resolution at last year’s Congress in Sao Paulo but he said he would not back down this time.
A three-quarter majority of FIFA’s 209 members is required for the Palestinian proposal to succeed.
Israel cites security concerns for restrictions it imposes in the West Bank and on the border with the Gaza Strip.
But it says it has eased travel for Palestinian athletes between the territories, which requires passage via Israel.
Eini sent a letter to the heads of all 209 associations on Sunday, requesting that they don’t allow sports and politics to be mixed. He insisted that the IFA has cooperated with FIFA and that this is not the way to solve a political dispute.
“The meeting with FIFA President Sepp Blatter is very significant in our fight to cancel the possibility of a vote being held at the FIFA Congress in order to suspend Israel,” Eini said.
“We will not allow for Israel to be presented as a country which violated the agreements which it signed and we will do all in our power to prevent any kind of ban. I certainly expect the FIFA president to speak out loud and clear on this matter and to prevent this malicious move.”Reuters contributed to this report.