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

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