Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi strongly criticized the FIFA “neutrality” decision. The following comments were reported by the Palestine News and Information Agency.
“There is no neutrality in the face of criminality. The FIFA Council’s recent decision to ‘not take any position’ is disturbing proof that it is bowing to pressure from the Israeli government and giving it a free pass to commit flagrant violations and crimes against the Palestinian people,” she said in a statement.
“By exclusively agreeing to ‘remain neutral with regard to political matters,’ FIFA is failing to acknowledge the unaccountable military occupation. Assigning equal blame ignores the power asymmetry between the belligerent occupier and a people under occupation. It is without a doubt that FIFA is falling into the trap that the occupation does not actually exist.”
Ashrawi added: “In actuality, FIFA is evading its own mandate and responsibilities that affirm it is ‘committed to respecting all internationally recognized human rights and shall strive to promote the protection of these rights.’ All settlements are illegal and constitute a war crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. It is very alarming that FIFA has chosen to turn a blind eye to such irrefutable facts and allow the Israel Football Association to hold matches inside the illegal settlements.
“Accommodating Israel will only encourage it to persist in its unlawful unilateralism. One would hope that it is not too late for FIFA to undo the damage and rectify the situation as soon as possible. We call on FIFA to rescind its decision and to take a principled stand on the right side of justice, not on the side of the occupation and cruelty. We urge it to undertake concrete action and to suspend the Israel Football Association as a result of its inclusion of Israeli settlement football clubs in occupied Palestine and Israel’s continued oppressive measures against Palestinian athletes, among other violations.”