Inside World Football reports today that Israel and Palestine have been urged by FIFA to step up their efforts to allow for the free movement of Palestinian players and officials in the West Bank and Gaza.
Delegates of both sides are understood to have met mediating FIFA executives on the fringes of last week’s executive committee meeting in Marrakesh.
Cyprus FA President Costakis Koutsokoumnis, who was appointed by FIFA to observe the implementation of the approved parameters concerning the movement into, out of, and within Palestine, presented an update to exco members and while he expressed general satisfaction, it was felt not enough progress had been made.
“As a result, the Executive Committee clearly expects the pace of implementation to accelerate during the coming months,” a FIFA statement said, inviting governmental representatives of both parties to join the working group set up to try and bring a about a workable solution.
Meanwhile FIFA President Blatter, who has already condemned the recent raid on the offices of the Palestinian Football Association, re-iterated his stance.
“Such actions are not only a blow for the international football community but it also puts the whole process at risk,” said Blatter.
Palestine, who became FIFA members in 1998, will compete in their first Asian Cup next month, amid fears over whether all their squad will be allowed to travel to Australia.
Asian Football Confederation chief Skeikh Salman bin Ibrahim al-Khalifa hinted that sanctions could be taken against Israel at next May’s FIFA Congress unless concrete measures are put in place to ease the burden on Palestinian athletes.
“Palestine is an important member of the Asian Football Confederation and we will not spare any effort in supporting the PFA, and will work together to stop the Israeli plans to hinder the development of Palestinian football, which has achieved tremendous success of late despite all the difficulties and obstacles,” he said.