Inside World Football reports as follows after the promised meeting between Sexwale and Israeli sports minter Miri Regev. The next step in the conflict over settlement clubs will be Consideration of Sexwale’s report by the FIFA Council at its next meeting on 9-10 January 2017.
“An increasingly frustrated Tokyo Sexwale, FIFA’s top mediator in the Middle East, has called on the relevant parties to show some movement on the “headache” of the six Israeli clubs based in settlements in the occupied West Bank who play in Israel’s lower leagues.
With the Palestinian FA keeping up continual pressure on FIFA, FIFA president Gianni Infantino has described the issue as a priority but Sexwale, chairman of the FIFA Monitoring Committee on Israel-Palestine, is facing a massive challenge.
“The biggest headache is a question of the clubs which are playing in the settlements. That is where we need people to make a move,” Sexwale said after meetings with Palestinian FA head Jibril Rajoub and Israeli Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev, adding a report he was preparing for the next FIFA Council session would be “very clear and loud.”
According to FIFA rules, clubs affiliated with one member’s association cannot play on the territory of another without the latter’s or FIFA’s consent and Rajoub said he was “looking forward to seeing a clearcut resolution” to enable Palestinian football to develop freely “like any other nation.”
The Israel Football Association, conversely, has accused the Palestinians of dragging sport into the political arena.
Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has sent a report to Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, high commissioner at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), outlining Israel’s illegal activities in the West Bank, including the issue of football.
“Through its affiliate, the Israel Football Association (IFA), FIFA is organising matches in Israeli settlements in the West Bank on land that has been unlawfully seized from Palestinians,” stated HRW’s report.
“FIFA is sponsoring the matches by allowing six semi-professional clubs in the IFA to hold their official home matches on fields located in Israeli settlements.”
“The settlement playing grounds, including one indoor hall, are built on land that has been unlawfully taken from Palestinians, mostly by seizing land belonging to Palestinian individuals or Palestinian villages, declaring it state land, and then designating it for exclusive Israeli civilian use.”