May 19 2015
The head of the world football’s governing body FIFA, Sepp Blatter arrived in Jerusalem on Tuesday in efforts to dismiss a motion by the Palestinian Football Association to suspend its Israeli counterpart over claims of abuses against the Palestinian players in the occupied territories.
The Palestinian Federation said it plans to go ahead with the motion to suspend the Israeli football authority.
The vote on the motion at the FIFA congress in Zürich is scheduled for May 29. Jibril Rajoub, the head of the Palestinian Football Association, said on Tuesday that he believed the issue would go to a vote and that he expected Israel to be suspended.
Palestinians are arguing that the vote is not political. They say that Israel does not allow free movement of Palestinian or foreign players, that its policy is discriminatory and that five teams in the Israeli football association are based in illegal settlements, in violation of FIFA rules.
Critical times for FIFA’s president
The recent motion is coming at critical times for FIFA”S president, Blatter, who first won a contested election amid allegations of fraud in 1998 . He is seeking re-election at the upcoming congress while facing mounting pressure over the staging of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The Qatar selection has attracted criticism not only because of alleged corruption in the process of selection Qatar, but also because of human rights abuses against migrant workers in the construction of infrastructure and stadiums for 2022 World Cup.
More generally, in recent years, FIFA has been immersed in accusations of corruption to the extent that the FBI is reported to have been involved in a probe of the conduct of FIFA officials.
Blatter opposes the motion
The FIFA president made it clear in a press conference following a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he stood firmly against any motion that would seek Israel’s suspension at his organization.
Blatter said that the Palestinian-sponsored motion was an abuse of FIFA statutes and “inappropriate”. He, however, admitted that he had no authority to stop the vote.
Palestine’s prestige growing
If Israel were suspended, it would be one of the major victories by the Palestinians since the failure of the United States-brokered peace talks prompted Palestinians to internationalize their cause.
Palestine was recognized as a state by the United Nations back in November and recently Pope Francis referred to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as an “angel of peace”. The Palestinians have continued their pursuit of statehood at the United Nation’s Security Council in December. However, their efforts for recognition were blocked by the U.S. and Australia.
In April, the state of Palestine became a member state of the international criminal court seeking to sue Israel for war crimes committed during several Gaza wars and other abuses in the West Bank.
Also, in recent months, several European countries have shown their support for Palestinian statehood.
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