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

ISRAELI FOOTBALL finally got a positive result this week when FIFA President Sepp Blatter said the country wouldn’t be suspended from international football. As if seeing their dreams of reaching next summer’s European Championships cast into doubt after home defeats against Wales and Belgium wasn’t bad enough, their whole existence in international football has once again be called into question. Jibril Rajoub, the head of the Palestinian Football Association, called on the suspension over Israel’s “racist behavior against Arabs”, but Blatter was having none of it. He 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”. And if further proof were needed that sport and politics don’t – and shouldn’t mix, while Rajoub thinks Arabs are being harshly treated, Israel themselves has been criticised by those who feel they’re being lenient concerning Arab teams playing in the Israeli League. While Blatter has given it a firm thumbs down, Rajoub’s motion would need the support of at least 156 votes from the 209-member FIFA congress for it to be passed. Think it’s fair to say Israel has more chance of reaching France next summer then it does of finding itself kicked into the international football wilderness.

OMRI CASSPI has been enjoying one of his best seasons in the States since becoming Israel’s first professional basketball player in the NBA. And he’s certainly getting more engaged with his supporters after a teammate of his accidently pushed him into the crowd during Sacramento Kings home game against the Washington Wizards. The young girl who he crashed into burst into tears, but the Israeli, proving the mensch he is, later went round to her house to apologise, and presented her with a gift – a doll from the film Frozen. Taking to his Facebook page later on, he said: “Had to make sure she’s not mad at me after I crashed at her during the game… and what’s a better gift than princess Elsa and Ulaf from #Frozen.”