Israeli football officials have said they will fight a Palestinian proposal to have their Football Association suspended from FIFA.
The Palestinian Football Association have called for Israel to be suspended at next month’s FIFA Congress, as a result of what they perceive to be Israel hindering free movement of their players and equipment, while adding they refuse to issue permits for foreign delegation visits. Israel cites security concerns as the reason why it imposes restrictions in the West Bank.
While FIFA president Sepp Blatter said earlier this month he would try to persuade the Palestine FA to withdraw the proposal, the Israelis fear the matter will be taken to a vote. Israeli FA (IFA) chief executive Rotem Kamer told Israel’s Army Radio: “Our understanding is that (Israel’s suspension) will be put to a vote and we are preparing for it with everybody we need. There’s a wish by all the official parties to get this off the agenda, nobody wants to involve politics… UEFA and FIFA understand this but we have to be prepared for the day of judgment, we can’t just leave it to chance.
“They need a 75 percent majority, 209 associations will vote but it could happen. If Israel is suspended, all its international activities will come to a halt.”
He said the IFA was told that the Palestinian proposal would be on the agenda at the FIFA Congress in Zurich next month and he and IFA chairman, Ofer Eini, would discuss the matter with European soccer’s governing body UEFA on Monday and senior officials at its world counterpart FIFA in a week’s time.
IFA chairman Ofer Eini said: “The threat on Israeli soccer is real and immediate. Our understanding is that (Israel’s suspension) will be put to a vote and we are preparing for it with everybody we need. We are trying to prevent a situation where a vote will take place in the congress on the basis of the inappropriate request. If this will not succeed, we will work to recruit enough people to oppose so that the request does not pass.
“Instead of using soccer to bridge between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which could contribute to rapprochement between the nations, the Palestinian Union is requesting to operate by way of boycotts and sanctions which will only exacerbate the situation.
“The Palestinian request is a blatant attempt to mix sports with politics and it comes despite it being clear that the Israeli union did everything it could in order to enable proper athletic life (in the occupied territories). With all due respect, we do not set international policy or interfere with security considerations.”