The following was issued yesterday by Avaaz:
FIFA will face legal challenges after officially deciding to refrain from taking action on Israeli settlement teams, thus allowing them to continue holding games in illegal settlements built on stolen land in the West Bank.
The FIFA Council’s failure to take action after years of pressure from campaigners leaves FIFA in direct violation of its own statutes, and opens the door to legal recourse.
Fadi Quran, Senior Campaigner for Avaaz in Palestine said: “FIFA’s failure to act means thousands of Palestinian children are being robbed of the chance to play the game they love on the land that’s theirs. If FIFA won’t do its job and won’t respect its own Statutes and international law, then the courts will force it to do so.”
FIFA’s statutes prohibit members holding games on the territory of another member without permission. A report commissioned by FIFA to look into the issue found that FIFA rules dictate that Israel desist from administering football on its territories. Specifically, Mr. Sexwale’s report states the following as a recommendation:
“In line with article 72.2 of the FIFA Statutes, which proclaims that member associations and their clubs may not play on the territory of another member association without the latter´s approval, the IFA is given a warning by FIFA (yellow card) to rectify this issue by desisting to administer football on the territories concerned within a minimum period of six months.”
The FIFA Council’s refusal to take action paves the way for a challenge in the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) and at other courts with jurisdiction over FIFA’s activities. Switzerland, where FIFA is based, and many European countries have legal advisories against doing business with or benefitting Israeli settlements.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino is already facing a legal challenge at CAS after blocking a vote on settlement teams at the FIFA Congress, and moving the vote to the FIFA Council where he has more control over decision making. If he loses this challenge, this issue could also be brought to a vote at the FIFA Congress in March 2018. Six IFA football clubs are based in settlements and host their official home matches there, on land unlawfully taken from and off-limits to West Bank Palestinians.
“By refusing to respect FIFA’s Statutes and international norms, President Infantino and the members of the FIFA Council are destroying any hope for transparency and Fair Play at FIFA,” Fadi Quran pointed out.
Avaaz, Human Rights Watch and EuMEP have called for FIFA to bar Israel from organizing football activities in West Bank settlements, because those settlements are illegal under the Fourth Geneva Convention, and contribute to serious human rights abuses. Their international campaign will continue until FIFA respects basic human rights in the occupied territories.