Days of Palestine

Saturday, February 4

FIFA okays settlers’ footballers to continue playing in illegal settlements

Days of Palestine -

Global soccer body FIFA will not intervene to prevent settlers’ soccer teams to play in the illegal settlements built on occupied Palestinian lands, FIFA Head Gianni Infantino said on Friday.

The Palestinian Football Association (PFA) filed a complaint against six Israeli teams playing in the illegal Israeli Jewish settlements, stating this is contrary to FIFA statutes which state that a member country’s teams cannot play matches on the territory of another association without permission.

In addition, the PFA has also complained that Israel hampers its activities, including limiting the movement of players between the West Bank and Gaza, and that it has barred some international travel.

In 2015, the PFA proposed during a FIFA Congress that Israel be suspended from international soccer but backed down after FIFA set up a task force led by South African politician Tokyo Sexwale.

“FIFA has decided to refrain from imposing any sanctions or other measures on either the Israel FA or the Palestinian FA,” Infantino told a news conference after a FIFA Council meeting.

“These territories are a concern for the international public law authorities and FIFA has to remain neutral.”

A FIFA statement added: “The matter is declared closed and will not be the subject of any further discussion until the legal and/or de facto framework has changed.”

The statement acknowledged that the situation was exceptionally complex and said that any interference by FIFA could aggravate the footballing situation in the region.

It made no specific mention of the six clubs, which are part of the Israeli settlements built in the occupied territories and are considered illegal under international law.