FIFA has removed the issue concerning a dispute between Israel and Palestine from their annual congress, saying it was ‘premature’ to ‘take any decision’ regarding the row.
The decision was announced following a five-hour long FIFA Council meeting in Bahrain, which was attended by representatives from the Israel Football Association (IFA) and Palestine Football Association (PFA), and chaired by FIFA Monitoring Committee chairman Tokyo Sexwale.
Confirming the decision was off the agenda for Thursday’s Congress, a FIFA statement said: “Following the report by chairman of the Monitoring Committee Israel-Palestine, Tokyo Sexwale, the FIFA Council considered that at this stage it is premature for the FIFA Congress to take any decision.”
The disagreement revolves around six Israeli teams, which are based in the West Bank, and there is still the possibility that the PFA, led by President Jibril Rajoub, could try to force the Congress to make a decision.
Rajoub had insisted the item wouldn’t be removed after reports suggested Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu phoned FIFA President Gianni Infantino to discuss the issue. The reports claimed Netanyahu also lobbied the heads of “several” countries present for the annual meeting here to ensure the discussions concerning the issue are shelved.
Tuesday’s decision was criticised by Martin Konecny of the Brussels-based think-tank European Middle East Project, who said: “FIFA has today failed in what is a litmus test of its proclaimed commitment to human rights.”