Wednesday

23rd May 2018

MEPs urge ban on Israeli settler football teams

  • Boys play football in Bethlehem, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank (Photo: yrl)

International football authority Fifa should exclude Israeli teams that come from occupied Palestinian land, according to an MEPs’ petition.

The 66 euro-deputies said in a letter addressed to Fifa head Gianni Infantino on Friday (9 September) that he should stop “at least five Israeli football clubs in West Bank settlements” from playing in the Israeli league.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The five teams are from Israeli settlements in Maale Adumim, Ariel, Kiryat Arba, Givat Zeev, and Bikat Hayarden.

They said the status quo “clearly violates” Fifa rules and goes against its own precedents.

Under the rules, teams from one Fifa member, in this case, the Israel Football Association, cannot play on the territory of another member, the Palestine Football Association, which joined Fifa in 1998, without the consent of the Palestinian Authority.

The MEPs noted that Uefa, the European football body governed by Fifa, in 2014 excluded football teams based in Crimea from playing in the Russian league after Russia annexed the territory from Ukraine.

“We … do not want politics to get in the way of the sport,” the MEPs said. “To that end, Fifa must not let football be an instrument of territorial expansion.”

“Football must be played by the agreed-upon rules, also in the Middle East”, they added.

The letter was the initiative of a Scottish Green MEP, Alyn Smith, and comes ahead of a Fifa meeting on 13 October in Zurich.

Most of the signatories were Green, far-left, centre-left, and liberal deputies, but it was also signed by two MEPs from the centre-right EPP group, the largest in the EU assembly, who play a leading role in EP sports policy - Bogdan Wenta and Santiago Fisas.

The Israeli mission to the EU did not reply to EUobserver's request for a comment.

An official from the Israeli Football Association told the Reuters news agency that Fifa had not yet decided whether to discuss the issue in Zurich.

The Palestinian Football Association, last year, called on Fifa to suspend all Israeli teams on grounds that Israel discriminates against Palestinian players under its occupation, for instance, by imposing travel restrictions.

But the Palestinians later dropped the initiative.

Interview

Palestinians join exodus to EU, says PLO's Erekat

Palestinians are joining the Middle East exodus to Europe in greater numbers because of the Syria war and Israeli occupation, Saeb Erekat, a senior Palestinian official told EUobserver.

Opinion

Time for EU courage on Israeli settlements

Israelis must be faced with the choice between ideological commitment to the settlement enterprise, or relations with the outside world, and in particular their European backyard.

Sofia summit: EU leaders search for a Trump strategy

"With friends like that, who needs enemies?" European Council Donald Tusk asked on Wednesday, as EU leaders were trying to come up with a reply to the US president's questioning of the transatlantic relationship.

Devil in detail in Macedonia name talks

Unlocking Macedonia talks could be this year's big breakthrough in EU enlargement, but the devil's in the detail of Macedonia's constitution, as Macedonian prime minister Zoran Zaev and Greek PM Alexis Tsipras meet in Sofia.

Analysis

EU has no 'magic bullet' against US Iran sanctions

EU leaders in Sofia will discuss how they can protect the bloc's economic interests against US threats to sanction companies doing business in Iran. But their options are limited.

Opinion

Ratifying CETA after 'Achmea scandal' is anti-European

While few people in Europe have heard of the 'Achmea' ruling, the case will have far-reaching consequences. Member states must understand the implications of the case quickly - especially those considering ratifying the EU-Canada trade agreement.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  2. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and reconciliation is a process that takes decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  3. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  4. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  5. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  7. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual Report celebrates organization’s tenth anniversary
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Cooperation Needed on Green Exports and Funding
  10. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li Confirms China Will Continue to Open Up
  11. European Jewish CongressCalls on Brussels University to Revoke Decision to Honour Ken Loach
  12. Sustainable Energy Week 2018"Lead the Clean Energy Transition"- Register and Join Us in Brussels from 5 to 7 May

Latest News

  1. 'Killer robot' projects eligible for EU defence fund
  2. Funding for European values needs radical changes
  3. Feeble EU format deflates Zuckerberg 'hearing'
  4. Are EU data watchdogs staffed for GDPR?
  5. EU pessimistic on permanent US trade exemption
  6. US asks EU to go after Russian and African villains
  7. Facebook threatened with removal from EU-US data pact
  8. Defence firms 'reap benefits' of advice to EU