Fifa washes its hands of Is­rael-Pales­tine foot­ball im­passe as Sexwale has lit­tle to show for his ef­forts

CityPress - - Sport - S’BU­SISO MSE­LEKU sm­se­leku@city­ have de­liv­ered on my man­date.”

‘IThis is what South African mogul and for­mer politi­cian Tokyo Sexwale told City Press this week af­ter Fifa dis­carded the Is­rael-Pales­tine mat­ter. Sexwale was ap­pointed by de­posed Fifa pres­i­dent Sepp Blat­ter in May 2015 to chair the Fifa Mon­i­tor­ing Com­mit­tee Is­rael-Pales­tine – which was es­tab­lished based on the de­ci­sion by Fifa Congress in 2015 to avert a vote on sus­pend­ing Is­rael from world soc­cer – with a view to find­ing a so­lu­tion that would al­low the game to be played un­der con­ducive and peace­ful con­di­tions in the volatile re­gion.

Af­ter lengthy con­sul­ta­tions that saw Sexwale travel ex­ten­sively to the West Bank and Gaza, he was sup­posed to ta­ble his re­port at the Fifa Congress in Bahrain in May.

Af­ter as­sum­ing the hot seat at the helm of world foot­ball, Fifa pres­i­dent Gianni In­fantino promised to make the Is­rael-Pales­tine mat­ter one of his pri­or­i­ties, but he had the item re­moved from the agenda and re­ferred the re­port to the Fifa Coun­cil. The coun­cil is a 37-mem­ber struc­ture that re­placed the ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee as part of re­forms af­ter Fifa was hit with mul­ti­ple scan­dals.

Af­ter go­ing through the re­port, Fifa this week is­sued a state­ment read­ing: “Fol­low­ing the re­port sub­mit­ted by the Fifa Mon­i­tor­ing Com­mit­tee Is­rael-Pales­tine chaired by Tokyo Sexwale and af­ter a thor­ough le­gal con­sul­ta­tion process, the Fifa Coun­cil has agreed on a po­si­tion with re­gard to the ad­min­is­tra­tion of foot­ball in the West Bank ter­ri­to­ries.

“The Fifa Coun­cil has de­cided to re­frain from im­pos­ing any sanc­tions or other mea­sures on ei­ther the Is­rael Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion [IFA] or the Pales­tinian Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion [PFA], as well as from re­quest­ing any other Fifa body to do so. The mat­ter is de­clared closed and will not be the sub­ject of any fur­ther dis­cus­sion un­til the le­gal and/or de facto frame­work has changed,” the state­ment con­tin­ued.

“With that said, the Fifa ad­min­is­tra­tion will con­tinue to fa­cil­i­tate the move­ment of play­ers, of­fi­cials and foot­ball equip­ment in, out of and within Pales­tine – the as­pect on which the Fifa Mon­i­tor­ing Com­mit­tee Is­rael-Pales­tine has cov­ered the most ground and achieved a pos­i­tive re­sponse.”

This caused a world­wide up­roar, with some say­ing it was a missed op­por­tu­nity for Fifa to solve this im­passe once and for all. Oth­ers said it was a two-year waste of Sexwale’s time and ef­fort.

In an ar­ti­cle pub­lished in In­side World Foot­ball, An­drew War­shaw wrote: “In­side World Foot­ball has seen a copy of the much-de­bated re­port by South Africa’s Tokyo Sexwale, which cov­ers sev­eral meet­ings be­tween the var­i­ous par­ties, and lists a se­ries of op­tions and rec­om­men­da­tions, all of which were re­jected by Fifa’s all-pow­er­ful coun­cil ... in the process break­ing the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s own statutes.”

City Press has seen the re­port, which has the fol­low­ing rec­om­men­da­tions:

. Op­tion 1: Main­te­nance of the cur­rent sta­tus quo

The sta­tus quo re­mains in that the IFA con­tin­ues to ad­min­is­ter foot­ball in the ter­ri­to­ries un­der dis­cus­sion (the set­tle­ments). Un­der this op­tion, it im­plies that there should be no ac­tion by Fifa un­til the Oslo dis­cus­sions – or sim­i­lar ne­go­ti­a­tions – in­volv­ing fa­cil­i­tated or di­rect talks be­tween the par­ties have re­solved the Is­rael-Pales­tine con­flict.

. Op­tion 2: Fifa warns IFA

In line with ar­ti­cle 72.2 of the Fifa Stat­ues, which pro­claim that mem­ber as­so­ci­a­tions and their clubs may not play in the ter­ri­tory of an­other mem­ber as­so­ci­a­tion with­out the lat­ter’s ap­proval, the IFA is given a warn­ing by Fifa (yel­low card) to rec­tify this is­sue by de­sist­ing to ad­min­is­ter foot­ball in the ter­ri­to­ries con­cerned within a min­i­mum pe­riod of six months.

Fail­ure to find a res­o­lu­tion within this pe­riod shall mean that the mat­ter will re­vert to the Fifa Coun­cil for fi­nal de­ci­sion-mak­ing. . Op­tion 3: Dis­cus­sions should be en­cour­aged be­tween the IFA and the PFA

Con­tin­ued dis­cus­sions be­tween the IFA and PFA should be en­cour­aged and should be based purely on foot­ball is­sues aimed at find­ing ac­com­mo­da­tion on how to agree among them­selves.

How­ever, Fifa de­cided to fol­low none of the above rec­om­men­da­tions in a thick re­port with 23 an­nex­ures marked A-W.

In the re­port, the com­mit­tee states that rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the IFA and PFA had “al­ways tried to re­main cool-headed” over the pe­riod of two years of ne­go­ti­a­tions. It also states that one of the achieve­ments was “the de­vel­op­ment of an IT sys­tem to fa­cil­i­tate the move­ment of peo­ple and goods in, out of and within Pales­tine”.

They said that, while it was still a work in progress, the IT mech­a­nisms were in the process of be­ing fur­ther de­vel­oped.

Sexwale could not be drawn to com­ment on Fifa’s de­ci­sion not to act on or make the re­port public, de­spite hav­ing stated in the “clos­ing re­marks” of the re­port that “what the Fifa lead­er­ship can­not any longer avoid is mak­ing a de­ci­sion on this mat­ter”.

“My man­date from Fifa was to lead the com­mit­tee, in­ves­ti­gate and com­pile a re­port,” he said. “I did that and handed in a com­pre­hen­sive re­port. What they do af­ter that, I have no con­trol over.”

He would also not com­ment about an open let­ter writ­ten to him by a group of South Africans, ti­tled Time to stand for Pales­tinian rights at Fifa, say­ing his man­date was only from Fifa, and that he only re­ported and re­sponded to it re­gard­ing this mat­ter.

.Fifa’s re­sponse to ques­tion sent by City Press was to re­fer us to the of­fi­cial state­ment on­fa­coun­cil-state­ment-on-the-fi­nal-re­port-by-the-fifa-mon­i­tor­ing­comm-2917741.html/. For the full in­side world foot­ball re­port ar­ti­cle visit­sid­e­world­foot­­clu­sive-fi­faig­nored-100-sexwale-re­port-killing-off-is­rael-pales­tine-talks/

JUST A GES­TURE Tokyo Sexwale with IFA pres­i­dent Gen­eral Ofer Eini and PFA pres­i­dent Gen­eral Jib­ril Ra­joub

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