Palestine submits bid to Fifa to stage 2017 Congress
The Palestinian Football Association will find out in December whether its bid to host the 2017 Fifa Congress has been successful in what would be a major recognition for the region if it lands the prestigious annual meeting of soccer’s international governing body.
Palestine is one of 10 member associations of Fifa to have expressed an interest in staging the Congress, for which it faces competition from Costa Rica, Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, Malaysia, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey and United Arab Emirates.
Costa Rica, Canada, Malaysia, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey and the UAE also expressed an interest in staging the 2016 Fifa Congress, along with the member associations of Greece, Jamaica, Jordan, Korea Republic, Mexico, Panama and Uzbekistan.
The final decision on the host countries is scheduled to take place during the Fifa executive committee meeting in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil on December 4 and 5.
The 2014 Fifa Congress will be staged in Sao Paulo, Brazil, host of next year’s World Cup, while the 2015 meeting, which will involve the presidential election, will, as in previous election years, be held in Zurich, Switzerland.
This year’s congress was held in Mauritius in May, where Fifa president Sepp Blatter was given a mandate to try to improve the present soccer situation in Palestine.
In July, Blatter visited Israel and Palestine to meet with soccer and government officials.
During a tour of the West Bank, he promised to help the Palestinian national team, whose squad is split between the West Bank and Gaza, with players often unable to move from one territory to the other because of Israeli security restrictions.
Blatter urged Israel to remove the travel restrictions and give greater respect to Palestinian athletes, saying that the situation violates Fifa’s charter.
He told an audience at Al-Najah University in the West Bank city of Nablus: “I’m on a mission... to transmit to the political authority in Israel the problems that you are facing here.”
Should Palestine be awarded the 2017 Congress, the Israeli government would be expected to guarantee freedom of attendance to delegations from all 209 Fifa members associations.
Any refusal to do so could then place in jeopardy Israel’s place within the international soccer family.
Pro-Palestinian sympathisers had complained to Uefa, Fifa’s European counterpart, over a decision to award this year’s European Under-21 Championships to Israel.
Palestinian Football Association chairman Jibril Rajoub and Fifa president Sepp Blatter