Protect the” Beautiful Game ”
Stop Israel playing international football
By Ronnie Kasrils
19 March 2015
In its genocidal attacks on everything and anything Palestinian, the apartheid state of Israel has launched a war on football in Palestine. Footballers have been targeted, shot and maimed, shot and killed, jailed and tortured, stadiums bombed and players and fans have been refused permission to travel to matches.
The “beautiful game” as played by Israel is the epitome of race hatred and prejudice in action against Palestinian players and spectators and is fanned by vile abuse and hatred from the Israeli government, virtually endemic throughout that society, with free license for the most rabidly racist football fans.
Apartheid Israel, as was the case with Apartheid South Africa, should have no place in football, within EUFA and FIFA (the European and International Football Associations), which unfortunately follow the USA and EU practise of granting impunity to the Zionist-settler state’s violation of international law and crimes against the Palestinian people. It is such carte blanche impunity which encourages the likes of Netanyahu and his cohorts, and Zionist government’s since 1948, to get away with apartheid practices, occupation, ethnic cleansing and incremental genocide.
From South Africa’s own experience of the power of resistance and value of international solidarity, our people understand the efficacy of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign (BDS) to isolate Apartheid Israel as was so successfully the case with regard to Apartheid South Africa. The boycott of apartheid sport, the severing of links, the moral correctness of refusing to have any such contact with racism on and off the field, as exemplified by the international “Keep Racism out of Football” campaign, is a vital component of “fair play” in all sport and life generally and a manifestation of international solidarity.
We recall 1976, when South African police shot down hundreds of protesting African school learners, and how FIFA did the absolutely correct thing then, after years of prevarication, by expelling South African Football from its ranks. In today’s democratic South Africa we need to see SAFA (the South African Football Association) putting its weight behind the growing international call to take similar decisive action to exclude Israel from the EUFA and FIFA system – where Zionist Israel is allowed to masquerade as part of Europe. The reality is that Israel is a colonising settler state in the Middle East where it has usurped Palestinian land and the fundamental rights of that embattled people.
Of note is the growing campaign in Britain, Belgium, France and elsewhere to mobilise against the EUFA fixtures between Wales and Israel this 28th March in Haifa and 6th September in Cardiff. The mobilisation unites all who oppose injustice but in particular involves Palestine solidarity campaigners, trade union and labour movement organisations, students, Muslim organisations and anti-racists in Britain. Concerned South African organisations should support such actions in the spirit of international solidarity that we ourselves were beneficiaries of during the struggle against apartheid.
We join with fellow BDS activists in Europe in their call on UEFA to emulate the actions of the Asian Football Confederation in 1974. This was the call that EUFA withdraw recognition of the Israeli Football Association due to its links with the Israeli state’s occupation, colonisation and apartheid practices.
Linked to this is the mobilisation of activists in Europe to descend on FIFA HQ in Zurich on 28-29 March, calling for Israel’s expulsion from that body.
All sporting ties with Israel should be broken as an integral part of the global BDS campaign. The South African FA should urgently and actively take up this call and liaise with other football associations to table a motion at the next FIFA General Council for the expulsion of Israel.
There can be no normal sport in an abnormal society and the horrendous suffering of the Palestinian people at the hands of the Israeli state cannot be tolerated. We stand for a free Palestine and an end to occupation and Israeli apartheid.
We need South Africa and the South African FA to say to FIFA and President Blatter:
“Respect your own rules of fair play and of keeping racism out of football. Demonstrate to the world your rejection of apartheid and racism within world football.”
Let us protect the “beautiful game” from the stain of racism and apartheid.
Struggle veteran and former Government Minister, South Africa.