FIFA president Sepp Blatter on Tuesday expressed his opposition to a Palestinian bid to bar Israel from international competition, saying such a move would harm soccer’s governing body itself.
Blatter was due to meet Palestinian Football Association (PFA) chief Jibril Rajoub in Cairo later Tuesday to discuss PFA calls for Israel to be suspended by FIFA for its “racist behavior against Arabs.”
When asked by AFP at a press conference to comment on the PFA request, Blatter said that “such a situation shall not occur at the FIFA congress because suspension of a federation for any reason is always something which harms the whole organization.”
“I will meet Mr Jibril Rajoub, president of Palestine football federation, later this afternoon. I can’t give you more details,” said the FIFA president, who is seeking a fifth term in office at an election next month.
In its draft resolution asking Israel to be barred, the PFA also protested at the creation of “five clubs in settlements on land occupied since 1967, clubs participating in Israeli national championships in violation of international law.”
The PFA last called for Israel’s suspension in November after Israeli forces raided its headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
It has also cried foul over Israeli travel restrictions on Palestinian players.
To be passed, the Palestinian resolution must win the support of at least 156 other delegates at the 209-member FIFA congress.
Blatter is attending a two-day meeting of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) in Cairo, which on Wednesday will choose a host country for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations.