JUST ONE week after Israel were handed a potential lifeline to take part in this summer’s World Cup, it now seems they may be expelled from international football before they even have the chance to pack their bags for Brazil. According to reports, FIFA, football’s world governing body, has given Israel until this summer to improve the travel and playing conditions for Palestinian footballers, or risk the threat of being expelled from the international game. While this story has rumbled on for a fair few months now, a recent visit to the Middle East by FIFA president Sepp Blatter has intensified the situation, with the Palestinian Football Association saying it would demand Israel’s expulsion if they don’t comply at FIFA Congress in Brazil. As with the political situation in the region, opinions differ. Israeli football officials say Palestinian players and officials have enjoyed greater improved access to move in and out of the West Bank and Gaza, with IFA CEO Rotem Kemer saying: “We are making our best efforts in order to help the Palestinian association. We are trying to make things easier for them. I don’t think we will be expelled from FIFA because we are making good progress with the Palestinians, I would say we are on the right track.” Let’s hope Blatter agrees.
NOT MANY Israelis can claim to be a world record holder, but that is the case with disabled swimmer Itzhak Mamistvalov. The 34-year-old is a double-gold Paralympic medallist, and won bronze at the London Games in 2012. Competing in the S1 category, which is for swimmers with the most severest of disabilities, he set a new world record in the 50-meter freestyle at the Denmark Open swimming tournament, in a time of 1:03.80. During the competition which saw 200 swimmers from 15 countries competing, he added to his historic moment by adding two more golds to his career medal count.