RCIR protests continuing repression of Palestinian football

RCIR protests continuing repression of Palestinian football

In advance of this Friday’s FIFA Council meeting, RCIR has sent the following letter to the 37 members of the Council.

Dear FIFA Council members,

27 October FIFA Council meeting
Agenda Item 14.1: Monitoring Committee Israel-Palestine

There remain a number of grave concerns over the repression of Palestinian football that need to be addressed under this Agenda item.

1) Obstructing movement of Palestinian players. It is still almost impossible for sports professionals to travel in and out of Gaza. Teams cannot compete regionally, internationally or even against their fellow Palestinians, while the careers of individuals are blighted. This contradicts the undertakings made by the Israel Football Association at the 65th FIFA Congress in 2015, and is unacceptable.

2) Interference with Palestine Cup Final. The one exception to the above is that since the 65th Congress the champion West Bank and Gaza teams have been able to compete against each other in the Palestine Cup Final. But on each occasion the Cup Final has been marred by major interference by Israel in the travel of the respective teams between the two territories. This year 10 Shabab Rafah players were denied travel to Hebron for the fixture’s second leg, after Ahli Al-Khalil had faced similar squad depletion in the first leg. This too contradicts Israeli undertakings and is unacceptable.

3) Recruitment of informers. We understand that, during travel to this year’s Palestine Cup Final, Israel’s security forces tried to recruit more than one Palestinian player as an informer. This outrageous abuse fundamentally contravenes the spirit of the game.

4) Obstructing equipment imports to Palestine. The right to import sports equipment without bureaucratic obstruction by Israel was an integral part of the agreement reached at the 65th Congress. Yet a shipment from the AFC partner company LIMONTA for new artificial pitches has been held by Israeli authorities since March 2017, with no sign of its impending release. The completion of the new pitches is under threat. This is one more example of Israel reneging on its commitments made in 2015.

We note that the Palestinian Football Association has repeatedly raised the denial of basic sporting rights with your organisation over the past four years. During that time it has participated in successive FIFA initiatives in good faith but has seen little tangible improvement to the experience of its players, staff and officials. The same obstacles remain.

We further note your culpable decision to deny the PFA its right to seek redress of its grievances at the 67th Congress, while prolonging – yet again – a Monitoring Committee process that ought to have concluded long ago. We consider that your actions contravene the duties of neutrality and non-discrimination laid down in FIFA’s Code of Ethics (section 5.14 & 5.23), and are an evasion of your responsibility to adjudicate the merits of the PFA’s case in line with FIFA’s Statutes and international humanitarian law.

We demand that you address the above-listed abuses as a matter of urgency.

Yours,

Red Card Israeli Racism

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