Palestinian soccer union calls for sanctions against Israel at FIFA congress

File: The Palestinian national soccer team's midfielder (#06) Oday Kharoub points to the number 110 on his hand, as he displays support with the people of Gaza, during the Qatar 2023 AFC Asian Cup Group C football match between Hong Kong and Palestine at the Abdullah bin Khalifa Stadium in Doha on January 23, 2024. (Giuseppe Cacace/AFP)
File: The Palestinian national soccer team's midfielder (#06) Oday Kharoub points to the number 110 on his hand, as he displays support with the people of Gaza, during the Qatar 2023 AFC Asian Cup Group C football match between Hong Kong and Palestine at the Abdullah bin Khalifa Stadium in Doha on January 23, 2024. (Giuseppe Cacace/AFP)

A proposal from the Palestine Football Association proposal to 211 FIFA member federations calls for “appropriate sanctions, with immediate effect, against Israeli teams,” according to FIFA documents released late last night, a month before the May 17 meeting.

The motion claims “international law violations committed by the Israeli occupation in Palestine, particularly in Gaza” and cites FIFA statutory commitments on human rights and against discrimination.

“All the football infrastructure in Gaza has been either destroyed, or seriously damaged, including the historic stadium of Al-Yarmuk,” the Palestine FA writes, claiming support for the congress motion from the federations of Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Syria and Yemen.

The latest call to punish Israel soccer will not be supported by FIFA, and is unlikely to make progress because Israel can expect global backing including from the 55-member European soccer body UEFA it joined 30 years ago. A cooperation deal also was signed last week between Israeli officials and the South American soccer body CONMEBOL.

Palestinian soccer cites the example of Russian teams being banned from international competitions by FIFA and UEFA during the military invasion of Ukraine that started in February 2022.

Israeli national and club teams have continued to play in UEFA competitions since the October 7 attacks by Hamas that sparked the ongoing war in Gaza, though home games were played in neutral Hungary and Cyprus for security reasons.

At the Paris Olympics opening in July, Israel will play in the men’s soccer tournament, and took part in the tournament draw last month. Israel was drawn in a group to play Mali, which is a Muslim-majority nation, Paraguay and an Asian team yet to be decided.

The Palestine FA says in its proposal to FIFA: “There is a good chance that some football associations will refuse to play against Israel.”

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