FIFA Congress 11 May 2017 shows over a quarter of FIFA members did not want to further delay on settlement clubs

FIFA Congress 11 May 2017 shows over a quarter of FIFA members did not want to further delay on settlement clubs

The Congress ended with a decision that the FIFA Council would find a solution on settlement clubs by March 2018,  and possibly even by October 2017.  This decision was not supported by 27% of the members present, some 50 countries.  That is a step forward for the Palestinian FA.

FIFA president Infantino said that “We will take responsibility and we will take a decision on this matter”.  His track record is not good.

Infantino also said that the Sexwale report was not available as it had not been finalised.  That is misleading; the report had been available in final draft form since March but the Israel FA managed to prevent its finalisation.

There were severe problems around cancelling the motion submitted by the Palestinian FA and incorporated in the agenda as Item 14.3.  Susan Shalabi, Palestinian FA vice-president said that “the main thing to note is that what the Congress did today was illegal.  FIFA illegally blocked the motion which was proposed in accordance with FIFA’s statutes.”

Furthermore, she noted “We’ve also seen clear intervention by the government in the business of the Congress. FIFA has suspended member states in the past due to government interference and now it has allowed Israel to do exactly the same.”

It seems that the State of Israel is given the right to veto debate at whim.

At the Congress Palestinian football president Jibril Rajoub told delegates his association wanted the same rights as others. “We are not looking for suspension or expulsion but the full recognition of our right that no Israeli clubs play in our territory,” he said.  “None of you will accept that any clubs play in your territory.

Ofer Eini of the Israeli association stuck to his line that the PFA was looking for a political solution.

Infantino tacitly admitted that politics played a role.  He noted that new American leadership said it is was trying to find a peace settlement and that “”Hopefully President Trump can find a solution. If he has any good ideas, I am happy take them on board”.

Inside World Football’s pithy report is at:

http://www.insideworldfootball.com/2017/05/11/chaos-congress-israel-palestine-dispute-fails-get-fifa-decision/

Al Jazeera’s report is at:  http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/05/fifa-postpones-decision-israeli-settlement-clubs-170511103200429.html

Haaretz had a more detailed report at http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.788664?utm_content=%2Fisrael-news%2F.premium-1.788664&utm_medium=email&utm_source=smartfocus&utm_campaign=newsletter-breaking-news.

The text is below:

FIFA’s congress voted Thursday to accept Gianni Infantino’s proposal and decided not to hold a vote on a Palestinian proposal against Israeli soccer teams based in the West Bank.
The decision stipulates that the issue of settlement teams will not be taken entirely off FIFA’s agenda, but rather that the FIFA committee for Israeli-Palestinian affairs, headed by Tokyo Sexwale, will have a nine-month extension until March 2018 to continue trying to find an agreeable solution to the problem.
President Infantino’s proposal passed by a 138-50 margin at the international soccer organization’s congress meeting, which was held in Manama, the Bahraini capital.

President of the Israeli Football Association (IFA), Ofer Eini listens to inagurational speech at the 67th FIFA Congress in Manama, Bahrain May 11, 2017 .

Ofer Eini, the chairman of the Israel Football Association, said after the vote that months of intense work had succeeded in frustrating the Palestinian effort to humiliate Israel at FIFA.
“We have good and loyal friends in FIFA,” Eini said. “I don’t have enough words to thank them for firmly standing by our side and about the decision to vote for removing the Palestinian proposal from the agenda.”

He added: “We succeeded once again in making it clear that mixing politics and sports is liable to be disastrous, and therefore FIF should avoid it. Soccer will be played in Israel everywhere, and I am sure it will be the same in the Palestinian Authority. The red card that FIFA should give is only to anyone who seeks to halt soccer because of political aspirations.”

Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev, who helped spearhead efforts to thwart the Palestinian move, said after the vote that she was happy that FIFA made a brave decision and kicked politics out of the soccer pitch. “We won the battle, but we will prepare for the coming fight,” said Regev. Referring to Jabril Rajoub, the chairman of the Palestinian Football Association, she added, “We will continue taking action to torpedo any additional attempt by Rajoub to attack Israeli soccer.”

Before the vote, Sexwale gave a briefing to Congress delegates and asserted that the committee he headed had not finished its concluding report on the issue of settlement teams, and that it needed more time.

Infantino called to the podium Rajoub, followed by Eini. Rajoub bitterly attacked Israel in his speech, blaming it of putting limitations on Palestinian soccer players. He also accused Israel of committing war crimes and called on football association members of FIFA to accept the proposal against Israeli soccer clubs operating in the settlements.

Eini dismissed Rajoub’s speech, asserting that the Palestinian bid was entirely political, forcing FIFA to deal with border and territory issues rather than soccer. Eini said soccer has no business dealing in political issues and called on the delegates not to vote on Rajoub’s proposal. Immediately thereafter, Infantino submitted his proposal, by which there would be a vote on the very question of whether to debate and vote on Rajoub’s proposal to the representatives of the 209 associations participating in the Congress.

The 50 votes against Infantino’s resolution came almost exclusively from the Arab and Muslim world, opposing it.
The Palestinians have been pressuring FIFA and its member states since 2015 to take action against Israel over the settlement teams. The Palestinian say these teams violate Article 72.2 of the FIFA Statutes, which says, “Member associations and their clubs may not play on the territory of another member association without the latter’s approval.” They therefore demand that Israel shut the settlement teams down, and if not, they say, Israel should be suspended from FIFA.
The six teams in question are located in Ma’aleh Adumim, Ariel, Kiryat Arba, Givat Ze’ev, Oranit and the Jordan Valley. All play in low-level leagues.

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