Asian soccer group pans alleged IDF raid on Palestinian HQ
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Asian soccer group pans alleged IDF raid on Palestinian HQ

Army denies sweep on West Bank office of Palestinian team, says it performed routine patrol

Asian Football Confederation president Sheik Salman Bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons/Lenbj)
Asian Football Confederation president Sheik Salman Bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons/Lenbj)

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — An alleged search of the Palestinian Football Association headquarters in the West Bank by the Israeli military was denounced as intolerable and unacceptable by Asian Football Confederation president Sheik Salman Bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa on Tuesday.

A day after the alleged incident, Sheik Salman accused the Israelis of “breaking into the PFA headquarters … a dangerous precedent that requires the international sporting family to stand together and support the PFA,” he said in a statement on the AFC website.

The AFC would work with FIFA, he added, to “study ways and mechanisms to put an end to the suffering of Palestinian football, and send a tough message to the Israeli authorities to stop its attacks on various parts of the Palestinian footballing system.”

In Tel Aviv, the military said it hadn’t targeted the building and there was no raid there.

It said a routine patrol in the area asked several Palestinians for their identification cards, and when they said the cards were inside the soccer association building, had followed them inside to check the cards.

The PFA has complained about Israeli travel restrictions on some of its players in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, a territory ruled by the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas.

Israel has cited concerns about possible attacks by Palestinian terrorist as the main reason for sweeping restrictions on movement that affect most Palestinians, including athletes.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter intervened to try and mediate this year, but the problems persist.

Despite a lack of training camps and the travel restrictions, the Palestinians won the AFC Challenge Cup in May to qualify for the 2015 Asian Cup in Australia, reaching the continental championship for the first time.

The soccer team started competing regularly in international competitions after being admitted by FIFA in 1998 following the establishment of the Palestinian National Authority.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.

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