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Avram Grant has urged FIFA not to ban Israel from international football

Former Chelsea manager Avram Grant has urged FIFA associations not to vote in favour of banning Israel from international football, saying that football and politics shouldn’t mix.

With FIFA’s 209 members set to vote on whether Israel should be banned from international football at their Congress on Friday – a motion put forward by the Palestinian FA – Grant told Sky Sports: “FIFA faces a very important decision that affects the future of sport. FIFA must not allow this great game to be influenced by politics.

“I am currently coaching in Africa. Before this I coached in Asia and in Europe. I also selected several Arabs for the Israeli national side and have seen on recent coaching trips to Jordan and Ramallah (West Bank city) that football is a bridge between hate and hope. We can use football to help and unite people of all nationalities and religions. If FIFA close this bridge they are taking the first step towards the destruction of football. I cannot say how important it is that politics should not have any place in football.”

FIFA president Sepp Blatter is against the vote, stating that Israel hasn’t broken any FIFA laws, while on Tuesday night a top official said FIFA leaders had “stepped up efforts” to head off the vote, saying: “Negotiations are still going on but they are very complicated.”