FIFA Round Table Discussion Palestine / Israel

Blatter (middle) with Rajoub and former Israeli Football Association chairman Avi Luzon at a meeting at FIFA headquarters in Geneva last year

FIFA President Sepp Blatter has dismissed calls from the Palestinian Football Association to ban Israel from competing in international football.

Jibril Rajoub, the President of the Palestinian FA, and a senior member of Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement, officially asked football’s world governing body to suspend Israel from international football on Monday, claiming they discriminate against Palestinian Arab players.

However, Blatter, speaking at the Confederation of African Football’s congress in Cairo, said: “Such a situation shall not occur at the FIFA congress because suspension of a federation for any reason is always something which harms the whole organisation.”

Following a meeting he later had with Rajoub, FIFA released a statement which said: “At the meeting, the FIFA president recalled that his objective is to find solutions for the benefit of football development in Palestine and that football should connect, not divide.

“The issues raised by the PFA will be handled. In this regard, as a next step, the FIFA president is due to meet the Israel FA at the home of FIFA later this month.”

The Israeli FA had earlier released a statement in response to Rajoub’s request, saying: “The Israeli FA believes that FIFA and Sepp Blatter at its helm, and the heads of the various federations and associations will not permit a move which seeks to mix sport and politics in a manner that is completely opposed to the principles of the organisation and the aims of the game.”

It added that new chairman, Ofer Eini, was “acting at all possible levels to ensure the standing of Israeli soccer is not harmed.”

Blatter had set up a task force in 2013 which included himself, the Israeli and Palestinian football chiefs and the heads of the European and Asian football confederations to examine Palestinian complaints and to try to resolve them.