The head of the Palestinian Football Association has renewed his calls for Israel to be expelled from international football.
Jibril Rajoub had lobbied for similar action ahead of FIFA’s 2015 Congress, only to withdraw the motion at the last minute. However, he has now repeated his calls, after expressing disappointment at FIFA’s Monitoring Committee Israel-Palestine draft recommendations, made on Monday, which will maintain the status of six Israeli football clubs based in “settlements”, which he says is a violation of international law, including UN resolutions.
Rajoub claims the teams are illegitimate, saying they’re based in “sovereign Palestinian territory,” which he believes is a violation of FIFA parameters.
Israeli officials have told him to stop mixing sport with politics, and to drop his demands to relocate the six clubs. An Israeli Football Association official told The Jerusalem Post: “Mr. Rajoub is trying to make a political fortune out of this issue and drag FIFA into politics, it’s not FIFA’s job to come to a conclusion regarding sovereignty over territories”. Israeli Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev said: “It’s inconceivable that Rajoub, who is driven by political interests and personal ambitions, will use FIFA for political purposes and turn sport into a political issue.”
South African Tokyo Sexwale was put in charge to head a FIFA commission in 2015, with the aim of resolving the dispute. However, having made his latest recommendations, Rajoub said none of the options he offered met Palestinian expectations. “I appreciate and I respect what (FIFA) did”, Rajoub said, “but I would prefer that we go right away to sanction and to suspension (of the Israeli football federation).