In a statement to press earlier this month, Palestinian football
chief Jibril Rajoub said
he would file a claim at CAS unless FIFA agrees to relocate the teams when the
world football body holds its council meeting next January.
will not give up. We will never accept any compromise,” he said.
dispute centres on six football clubs playing in Israel’s lower divisions that
are based in Israeli settlements on the West Bank.
Palestinian FA says the location of the teams violates FIFA rules, which state
that football clubs from FIFA member affiliates – such as the Israeli FA – may
not play on the territory of other football associations without their
considers the settlements to be built on its own territory, which is illegally
occupied under international law. It argues that the clubs are playing there
without the permission of the Palestinian FA, which has been recognised by FIFA
FIFA has established a special monitoring committee – headed by
South African anti-apartheid campaigner and former FIFA presidential candidate Tokyo Sexwale – to
consider the complaints against the Israeli FA, but so far talks have proved
This week Sexwale held meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and
Palestinian president Mahmoud
Abbas to discuss the Israeli clubs based in the settlements, as
well as the movement of footballers and football goods in and out of
Academic and journalist James Dorsey, the author of a blog entitled
“The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer”, says the recent election of Donald
Trump as US president is likely to give “reinforced impetus” to Palestinian
plans to file at CAS.
indications are that Trump will reverse long-standing US policy that views the
West Bank as occupied territory and the settlements as illegal. The question is
then whether FIFA would issue a decision which is directly at odds with US
policy”, he said.
filing at CAS would constitute a first testing of Palestine’s ability to fight
its battle with Israel in international forums. The court’s handling of the
issue could prove significant in light of Palestine’s accession to the Rome
Statute of the International Criminal Court in early 2015, which paves the way
for war crimes prosecutions arising from its conflict with Israel.
not the first time the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has arisen in a sporting
context. Earlier this year Scottish football club Glasgow Celtic was fined by
the governing body of European football, UEFA, for displaying Palestinian flags
in a Champions League qualifier against Israeli club Hapoel Be’er Sheva.
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