Mohammed Assaf banned from performing at FIFA World Cup

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The invitation to Arab Idol winner Mohammed Assaf to sing at the opening of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil this summer has been rescinded.

Ramallah Press conference Feb13, 2014

Gaza City, Palestine  press conference Feb 11, 2014

Flocked by fans and admirers at a press conference in Gaza City on Tuesday, Assaf said he was prevented from performing at the World Cup 2014 opening ceremony by “states and other actors ‘unknown’.” Assaf also said that Shakira, also scheduled to perform at the opening ceremony, will protest FIFA’s decision by refusing to perform as well.

News publication Emirates 24/7 , of Dubai Media Inc., the official media organization of the government of Dubai, is reporting Shakira, is boycotting the ceremony. 

Arab Idol singer Mohammed Assaf says he has been banned from singing at the opening of the World Cup 2014 in Brazil and that the Colombian singer Shakira has decided to boycott the ceremony in protest at the ban,

Assaf, a Palestinian living in Gaza Strip, wrote on his social network page that he has just been notified about the decision cancelling an agreement with him to sing at the World Cup, which will kick off in June.

“I have been banned from singing at the World Cup opening in Brazil by some countries and parties which I do not know,” he said, according to the Saudi daily Sada and other regional newspapers.

“This decision has prompted Shakira to apologize from singing at the ceremony,” he added without giving further details.

The significance of FIFA’s invitation to Assaf, issued directly after the announcement he had won the Arab Idol competition, cannot be over stated. It signaled his talents and meteoric rise that quickly followed were recognized not just within the Arab world but to much wider audiences and the emergence of Assaf on the global stage.

That seems like a long time ago now, especially after his whirlwind North American tour sweeping audiences off their feet. It remains to be seen what kind of pressures will come to bear on FIFA after the news of their disastrous decision permeates the mainstream.

But whatever the outcome one thing is certain, there will be no holding Mohammed Assaf back, his destiny as a global superstar, is already sealed.

Visiting the beach in Gaza Feb 2014 (photo: Muhammad Ferwana)

Back home in Khan Younis, Gaza, Palestine  Feb.9, 2014 (photo: Muhammad Ferwana)

Unfortunately Mohammed Assaf was not able to perform in Gaza during his recent visit. Although concerts were planned and approved by Hamas’ Ministry of Culture their Ministry of Interior did not approve the plan. 

In other soccer news, the Jerusalem Post reported yesterday that Palestinian Football Association chairman Jibril Rajoub is calling on FIFA to expel Israel for failing to abide by its conventions, and said the PA would ask FIFA for Israel’s expulsion from the organization.

From the Jerusalem Post article, PA to ask FIFA to expel Israel:

“We will demand the expulsion of Israel from FIFA and the International Olympics Committee,” Rajoub told reporters in Ramallah.

He said that the Palestinian demand for the expulsion of Israel would be presented to FIFA during the organization’s next conference in June.

Rajoub also called for international recognition of the Palestinian Football Association as a national Palestinian organization.

He said he would seek the backing of Arab ministers of youths during their upcoming meeting on March 14 for the demand to expel Israel from FIFA.

He said that Iran, Qatar, Oman, Jordan,  Algiers and Tunisia have already pledged to back the Palestinian demand.

Rajoub claimed that Israel does not want the Palestinians to have their own national sports entity and seeks to break the Palestinians’ athletic will.

Thanks to Phil Weiss

(Previous Mohammed Assaf coverage on Mondoweiss available here)

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