RCIR writes to all members of the FIFA Council on illegal settlement clubs

RCIR writes to all members of the FIFA Council on illegal settlement clubs

Several representations have been made to the Israel Palestine Monitoring Committee on the issue of teams from Israeli settlements playing in the Israeli FA’s leagues prior to the Committee’s report at the FIFA Council meeting on 13-14 October.  This campaign felt that prior to the meeting relevant information should also be forwarded to the individual members of the FIFA Council who will be deciding  what action to take.  The letter below gives this information.

 

3 October 2016

To: Presidents of Member Associations of the FIFA Council

(distribution list given below)

Dear President,

Agenda item on Israeli settlement clubs

FIFA Council meeting 13-14 October 2016

The Israel/Palestine Monitoring Committee will present a report at this meeting which is expected to address the issue of illegal Israeli settlement teams and other items within its scope of work.

Important representations have been made to the Committee by:

This letter is to highlight crucial factors regarding the settlement clubs, and to give essential background information on the repression of Palestinian football and the ongoing situation at Beitar Jerusalem FC.

1) Football clubs based in illegal Israeli settlements

Six IFA member football clubs are based in illegal Israeli settlements on the West Bank, while a seventh (Hapoel Katamon Jerusalem FC) plays some of its home games in the settlement of Ma’ale Adumim.  These clubs are registered as member clubs of the Israeli FA.  This clearly violates the Palestinian FA’s right given by FIFA’s Statutes to be the sole football authority in Palestine.

However, that offence is part-and-parcel of a greater one – namely that by accepting the seven clubs’ as members the IFA is participating in the grave war crimes represented by the settlements themselves.  The settlements are illegal under international law – as is recognised by the UN and all nations in the world except Israel.

Human Rights Watch has established that the clubs are playing on pitches sited on a mix of privately-owned land illegally seized from its owners and state land illegally allocated for non-military use. These are offences under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

The clubs benefit in all the normal ways from affiliation to the IFA, despite their illegality: direct funding, sundry services such as training and promotion, the use of Israeli FA referees to officiate at matches, and above all the benefit gained from competing at a semi-professional level. In return the Israeli FA benefits, principally through the availability of the clubs’ players to the feeder networks serving clubs at a higher level of the game. The settlements themselves benefit from the clubs through the employment opportunities provided and the enhanced social fabric, which is used to attract further illegal settlers to the West Bank.

It is intolerable that the Israeli FA should thereby compromise the integrity of the Palestinian FA as the football authority of Palestine.  FIFA should not appear to condone the grave war crimes associated with the illegal Israeli settlements.

2) Obstruction of movement

This issue has been at the core of FIFA’s intervention in Israel/Palestine for the past three years, yet the Palestine Football Association reports that Palestinian athletes, staff and officials are still being delayed, detained, arrested and abused on a frequent basis when passing through military checkpoints. Such frustrations simply mirror those experienced daily at the checkpoints by Palestinians from all walks of life.

Please note in particular the following incidents:

  • 30/07/16 – 1/08/16: seven members of Shabab Khan Younis FC denied entry to the West Bank, leading to postponement of the Palestine Cup Final Second Leg for two days. The seven players were finally allowed to travel after direct intervention by FIFA. This and the previous event closely resemble similar obstruction surrounding the Palestine Cup Final – the high point of the Palestinian football calendar – one year ago.
  • 25/07/16: Ahly Al-Khalil FC delayed passage to Gaza for 12 hours, and seven of their number denied entry altogether, on the eve of their Palestine Cup Final First Leg fixture with Shabab Khan Younis FC.
  • 26/06/16: Husam Al-Hussein (PFA Deputy Director of International Relations) detained for several hours while travelling to Al-Ram. He was placed in a small concrete block while soldiers traded humiliating postures, and urinated, around him.
  • 11/04/16: Al-Orouba SC of Oman delayed during travel to Palestine for an AFC Cup fixture, due to the six-hours’ detention of the team physician and a number of team players and officials. No explanation was offered.
  • 3/03/16: Fadi Shareef (Al-Hilal Gaza FC) arrested on his return from Al Maqasin Hospital, Jerusalem, where he had received knee surgery. He had prior permission to travel.
  • 23/02/16: Ihsan Mikdadi (personal assistant to PFA President Gen Rajoub) detained for three hours on being accused of passing false currency in payment of border taxes; since then the accusation has evaporated.
  • 9/12/15: PFA Vice-President Ibrahim Abu Salim denied passage from Gaza to the West Bank despite having prior permission to travel.

3) Violence at the hands of soldiers

Please note the following:

  • 22/09/16: tear gas fired into the Youth of Hebron FC building near Bab Az-Zawia, a number of young people needed hospital treatment.
  • 30/08/16: five players beaten up by police on leaving football practice at Burj Al-Laqlaq Foundation in East Jerusalem. Each of the players needed hospital treatment for their injuries.
  • 26/08/16: tear gas fired into Faisal Al-Husaini Stadium during Abu Ammar Semi-Final match between Shabab Al Dahriya FC and Markaz Balata FC, causing five serious breathing injuries and six injuries with sound bomb shrapnel.
  • 16/08/16: Mohamed Yousef Sabr Abu Hashhash (Al-Fawwar FC) shot in the back by a sniper, killing him instantly.
  • 28/04/16: tear gas fired towards the PFA Headquarters in Ramallah, PFA staff inhaling the gas became sick.
  • 24/05/15: soldiers broke into the Faisal Al-Husaini Stadium and PFA Headquarters in Ramallah, interrogated and threatened staff.
  • 12/11/15: tear gas fired into Al-Khadr Stadium during match between Al-Bireh FC and Jabal Al-Mukabber FC, forcing abandonment of the match.
  • 11/11/15: Omar Akram Jobran Rajoub (Joseph Blatter Academy, Al-Bireh) shot in the leg, hospitalized for four days.
  • 5/11/15: Hazem Jawad Azmi Al-Khatib (Shabab Al-Khalil FC youth team) shot in the foot, hospitalized for four days.

Once again, these events mirror the daily experiences of Palestinians from all walks of life.

4) Beitar Jerusalem FC

Beitar Jerusalem is one of Israel’s top football clubs, yet it has never hired an Israeli Arab player.

It appears that successive owners and managers have been deterred from doing so by the club’s extreme right-wing and racist fan base, which regularly displays at matches the banner of the banned fascistic Jewish Defence League as well as organizing extremist political demonstrations and engaging in racist violence on the streets. Police recently arrested dozens of the club’s fans and seized weaponry from them including explosives and grenades.

Last summer Israel’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission launched an inquiry into the club’s illegal employment practices. It has yet to publish the inquiry’s conclusions.

We find it extraordinary that, for so many years, the Israel Football Association has failed to act effectively to bring the club’s criminal fan based under control or to discipline the club in any way for its employment practices. We find the IFA to be grossly negligent in the performance of its duty.

5) Our recommendations

We believe that FIFA has acted in good faith over the past three years in its attempts to resolve the grievances of the PFA. However, in view of the continuing abuses outlined above, we consider that FIFA’s reputation as an honest broker is under threat.

We therefore ask you to implement the following two main recommendations which we made to Tokyo Sexwale:

1) Demand the immediate cancellation of IFA registration of the seven football clubs currently playing home games in the Occupied Palestinian Territories

2) If the Israeli FA does not respond, place the IFA under immediate suspension from FIFA membership.

We also believe that the Council could usefully:

3) Undertake urgent negotiations directly with the government of Israel to ensure that Palestinian football players, staff and officials do indeed have the freedom of movement, dignity and security of person that are their right.

4) Demand the immediate suspension of Beitar Jerusalem FC from the Israeli Football League, subject to review of the club’s employment practices, stewarding practices and anti-racism awareness by FIFA in conjunction with such independent experts as FIFA deem necessary.

We wish you well in your deliberations and look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

Red Card Israeli Racism campaign

__._,_.___

ATTACHMENT:   DISTRIBUTION

 

Switzerland Mr Gianni Infantino President, FIFA
Senegal Ms Fatma Samora Secretary General, FIFA
American Samoa Ms Sandra Fruean Vice President Football Federation American Samoa
Cameroon Mr Issa Hayatou Senior Vice President, FIFA
Bahrain Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa President, Asian Football Confederation
Belgium Mr Michel D’hooghe UEFA  representative at FIFA
Brazil Mr Fernando Sarney CONMEBOL representative at FIFA
Burundi Ms Lydia Nsekera CAF representative at FIFA
Canada Mr Victor Montagliani President, Canadian Soccer Association
Congo DR Mr Constant Omari President, Fédération Congolaise de Football
Cook Islands Mr Lee Harmon President Cook Islands Football Association
Cuba Mr Luis Hernández President, Asociación de Futbol de Cuba
Cyprus Mr Marios Lefkaritis UEFA  representative at FIFA
Egypt Mr Hany Abo Rida CAF representative at FIFA
England Mr David Gill Vice Chairman, The FA
Equador Mr Maria Sol Munoz Federación Ecuatoriana de Fútbol
Ghana Mr Kwesi Nyantakyi President, Ghana Football Association
Guinea Mr Amadou Camara Vice President Fédération Guinéenne de Football
Italy Ms Evelina Christillin Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio
Japan Mr Kohzo Tashima President,Japan Football Association
Kuwait Sheikh Dr. Talal Al Fahad Al Sabah President, Kuwait Football Association
Malaysia Prince H.R.H.   Abdullah President; Football Association of Malaysia
Panama Mr Pedro Chaluja President, Federación Panameña de Fútbol
Papua New Guinea Mr David Chung President, Papua New Guinea Football Association
Paraguy Sr Alejandro Dominguez President, CONMEBOL
Russia Mr Vitaly Mutko UEFA  representative at FIFA
Slovenia Mr Aleksander Ceferin President, Football Association of Slovenia
Spain Mr Ángel María Villar Llona President, Real Federación Española de Fútbol,
Tunisia Mr Tarek Bouchamaoui Executive Committee Member,Confédération Africaine de Football
Turkey Mr Senes Erzik UEFA  representative at FIFA
Turks and Caicos Islands Ms Sonia Bien-Aime President, Turks and Caicos Islands Football Association
USA Mr Sunil Gulati President, United States Soccer Federation
Uruguay Esc Wilmar Valdez President, Uruguayan Football Federation

 

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