Home games for two Palestinian teams in the Asian Cup due to be played in early May 2016 were forfeited because the Palestinians were instructed to play outside Palestine but were unable to do so. The opposition were Syrian teams. It was not made clear why the Syrian teams could not or would not play in Palestine. Our campaign has complained to the Asian Football Confederation’s Executive Committee with the following letter sent to all members.
“Home fixtures for Palestinian football teams
I write on behalf of Red Card Israeli Racism (RCIR), the football campaign within the framework of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. Our work is built upon solidarity with the Palestinian Football Association (PFA), whose continuing efforts to secure sporting freedom for Palestinian athletes are exemplary.
One of the freedoms that the PFA fights for is the right to play foreign teams on Palestinian soil. This is a basic entitlement. We are very disappointed to see that the AFC recently violated it by giving unjust backing to teams which, for their own reasons, do not wish to travel to Palestine.
Two Palestinian clubs, Ahli Al-Khalil FC and Shabab Al-Dhariya FC, were unjustly penalised by the AFC Disciplinary Committee for the cancellation of recent AFC Cup Group Stage home fixtures when the circumstances were totally beyond the Palestinian clubs’ control. This followed an equally unjust ruling by the AFC Competitions Committee that the fixtures concerned must be shifted to neutral venues – despite assurances from the Palestinian Ministry of Civil Affairs that there would be no obstacle to the opposing clubs’ entry into Palestine.
We find this to be a disturbing chain of events. Palestinian football has faced a long struggle against Israeli oppression that is by no means over. The PFA has the right to expect all appropriate support from the AFC in its efforts to develop the game and in particular play home fixtures at home rather than at a neutral venue.
We ask you to ensure that, should the two clubs appeal against the Disciplinary Committee’s ruling, they will receive a fair and sportsmanlike hearing.
We further ask you to ensure that the legitimate rights and aspirations of Palestinian football receive the full backing of the AFC.”
The report of the AFC decision is given at: