Palestinians call on FIFA to ban matches in settlements
Sept.28, Jerusalem: An official from the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) on Tuesday called on football's ruling body FIFA to ban Israeli teams from playing matches in Jewish-only settlements across the occupied West Bank.
"By allowing games to be held on Palestinian land where settlements have been built, FIFA is involved in political and business activity that supports these settlements, which are considered illegitimate and illegal by international law," Ali Ishaq, a member of the PLO's committee in charge of the sports department, said in a statement.
The call comes two days after New York-based Human Rights Watch urged FIFA to act on the issue of six clubs who play in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.
"By holding games on stolen land, FIFA is tarnishing the beautiful game of football," said Sari Bashi, the director of HRW for Israeli and the Palestinian territories.
Israel has militarily occupied the West Bank since it seized the territory in the 1967 war.
Palestinians have long opposed the participation in the Israeli championships of the settlement clubs, which play in Israel's third, fourth and fifth divisions.
FIFA is expected to discuss the issue at an October 13-14 meeting of its executive committee.
"FIFA will continue its efforts to promote friendly relations between our member associations in accordance with FIFA statutes and identify feasible solutions for the benefit of the game and everyone involved," it said in a statement to AFP news agency.
The Israel Football Association responded to the HRW's report by saying the sport was being "dragged from the football field into a political one", but that it had faith FIFA would deal correctly with the issue.
The Palestinian Football Association (PFA) head Jibril Rajoub confirmed to AFP that it asked the Asian Football Confederation and European Union to take up the case, and it was hopeful FIFA's executive committee would.
The Oslo Times International News Network