AFC want Fifa to re­solve Is­rael-Pales­tine dis­pute

New Straits Times - - Sport -

ZURICH: Asian foot­ball’s gov­ern­ing body (AFC) have called on Fifa to ur­gently solve a long-run­ning dis­pute be­tween Is­raelis and Pales­tini­ans.

AFC pres­i­dent Sheikh Sal­man Ebrahim Al Khal­ifa said that a dead­line for end­ing the mat­ter had been re­peat­edly put off and that Pales­tini­ans merely wanted to see “foot­ball played on their land.”

The dis­pute cen­tres on six teams from lower di­vi­sions of the Is­raeli league who are based in set­tle­ments on the oc­cu­pied West Bank and play their matches there.

The Pales­tine FA (PFA) say 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.

Is­raeli set­tle­ments are con­sid­ered il­le­gal un­der in­ter­na­tional law, although Is­rael dis­putes this.

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.

Is­rael has cited se­cu­rity con­cerns for its ac­tions and the Is­raeli FA, who are a mem­ber of Euro­pean foot­ball body UEFA, say they are not re­spon­si­ble for the ac­tions of their gov­ern­ment.

The AFC said in a state­ment that their ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee had “backed a rec­om­men­da­tion to in­sist Fifa seek an ur­gent res­o­lu­tion to the on­go­ing Pales­tine is­sues with Is­rael.”

They called on Fifa to ap­ply “the rel­e­vant Fifa statutes as soon as pos­si­ble.”

“Pales­tine is a mem­ber as­so­ci­a­tion of the AFC and all they want is to see foot­ball played on their land,” said Sheikh Sal­man.

“We would like to see a def­i­nite dead­line set, as in the past the dead­line has been ex­tended again and again. We all feel strongly that this is­sue should be re­solved.’

The PFA called on the Fifa Congress two years ago to sus­pend Is­rael but were per­suaded to drop the mo­tion at the last minute.

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