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Palestinian soccer chief threatens to take Israel to court

Jibril Rajoub says he and Israeli counterpart met for 7 hours in Zurich over settlement clubs, with no breakthrough

Palestinian Football Association (PFA) head Jibril Rajoub holds a press conference on October 12, 2016 in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (Abbas Momani/AFP)
Palestinian Football Association (PFA) head Jibril Rajoub holds a press conference on October 12, 2016 in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (Abbas Momani/AFP)

The Palestinian soccer chief said Tuesday he would appeal to the world’s top sports court if the soccer world body FIFA fails to punish Israel over clubs based in the West Bank.

At issue are six small-time Israeli soccer clubs which play in Israeli West Bank settlements, alongside travel restrictions imposed on Palestinian players by Israel, which have fueled a protracted dispute at FIFA.

Palestine Football Association (PFA) President Jibril Rajoub said the two sides met at FIFA headquarters in Zurich on Tuesday for seven hours with no breakthrough achieved and little hope for a compromise.

“Israel didn’t even come up with any serious argument,” he said. “I don’t think there will be any agreement.”

Rajoub said the PFA continues to “trust” FIFA and will wait for the body’s council to make a definitive ruling on the dispute, which could come when the council meets next in January.

A man watches his son during a training session of the Beitar Shabi Givat Zeev soccer club, in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Givat Ze'ev, near Jerusalem, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
A man watches his son during a training session of the Beitar Shabi Givat Zeev soccer club, in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Givat Ze’ev, near Jerusalem, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

But if FIFA drags its feet or fails to stand up to the Jewish state, Rajoub vowed to take the fight further.

“If they are not going forward, we can go to the CAS,” he said referring to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland, which generally has the final say in major sport disputes.

“We will not give up. We will never accept any compromise,” he added.

At last month’s FIFA council meet, world soccer’s president Gianni Infantino urged both camps to set aside politics and find a solution “for football.”

Infantino has tasked South African businessman, anti-apartheid leader and sport powerbroker Tokyo Sexwale to lead a commission on the dispute.

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