As FIFA’s upcoming Congress draws closer ahead of this summer’s World Cup, the relationship between Israel and Palestine has only gotten worse. Palestinian Football Association Chairman Jibril Rajoub says Palestine will be moving forward with their plans to seek sanctions against Israel when the Congress meets in San Paulo on June 9-10.
Speaking at the Soccerex Asian Forum on the Dead Sea on Tuesday, Rajoub said Palestine had made efforts; “we tried to change” but that Israel had not been cooperating with a Task Force established last year by FIFA president Sepp Blatter. Rajoub explained, “They cannot keep behaving like the neighbourhood bully, violating all the statutes of FIFA and the Olympic charter and rejecting any good intention either from UEFA, FIFA, the AFC, Palestinian FA or any other interested third party”.
According to Reuters, following the arrest of yet another Palestine footballer earlier this month (Sameh Moraebe, 22, which we reported here) and the unconscionable attack (and subsequent arrest) by Israeli forces on footballers Jawhar Nasser Jawhar, 19, and Adam Abd al-Raouf Halabiya, 17, Chairman Rajoub “gave little hope for improvement” between now and FIFA’s Congress:
“There have been two disastrous events. Last week our national team was in Qatar in camp preparing for the Asian Cup and when they came back the Israelis arrested one of the players and now he is in jail with no reason,” he said.
“I am sure they will release him in a week or two so why arrest him in the first place?
“The other event was the famous story that they shot and injured two athletes who had to go to Jordan for treatment for three months. Then they came back and arrested them,” Rajoub added.
“I don’t think that such a policy should pass without sanctions, without being punished.
But the final straw came when Israel sent a letter stating they were “ready to develop sport in Palestine”, but only under their purview!
Rajoub is also upset the Israelis recently sent a letter to Blatter which said: “We are ready to develop sport in Palestine but this should be done through our channels”.
It was the final straw for Rajoub who told Reuters: “That implies we were affiliated to Israel.
“It means they are not recognising the very existence of Palestinian sporting entity. This is the substance of the problem and for us I don’t think anything will happen.
Rajoub continued; “It’s what happened in South Africa in the 1980s and 1990s. It means this is an excuse and I think this is enough for us to ask for sanctions”
It’s about time. Yes, it’s apartheid.