During the Apartheid era the South African FA was excluded from FIFA membership (1964 to 1992). The President of the Palestinian Football Association has called for expulsion of the Israeli FA. This campaign has therefore launched a petition to FIFA:
Membership of the Israeli Football Association (IFA) should be suspended until Israel respects the human rights of Palestinians and observes international law, thus enabling Palestinian footballers to play and compete nationally and internationally.
The illegal military Israeli occupation of Palestine has been going on for 47 years despite condemnation by the UN and International Court of Justice. When influential sports organizations say nothing in the face of injustice they are complicit.
Commercial and cultural actions worldwide are increasingly demanding an end to Israel’s repressive policies.
It is now time for sports initiatives to add their voice.
The Israeli occupation specifically impacts on Palestinian football by restricting movement of players within the West Bank, between the West Bank and Gaza, and to take part in international competitions. Israel limits imports of vital sporting equipment. Players have been harassed, detained, imprisoned and killed.(1,2)
There is blatant well documented racism within Israeli football.(3) Players of Palestinian origin suffer insults from the terraces: Beitar Jerusalem football club is arguably worse than any in Europe with chants of ‘Death to Arabs’ and arson attacks. Any efforts made by the Israeli FA to stop this abuse have been ineffective.
In 2013 footballers like Eric Cantona, Frederic Kanoute and 50 other international players challenged UEFA’s decision to hold the Men’s U-21 tournament in Israel. Eminent human rights activists questioned how an organisation that clearly promotes anti-racism can place a major competition in an openly racist country? Yet UEFA still plans to hold the U-19 Women’s final there in 2015 and may consider Israel as a venue for preliminary matches in Euro 2020.
FIFA has recognized some Israeli abuses and created a Task Force aimed at facilitating the movement of players and equipment. But its success depends on the goodwill of the Israeli Defence Force.
When FIFA formally suspended the membership of the South African FA between 1964 and 1992, its action contributed to international pressure to end apartheid.
Therefore, the petition asks FIFA to follow this precedent and suspend the Israeli FA. The Israeli government must at some point take notice.
(1) Abuses | Red Card Israeli Racism, section 5