Tuesday

10th Dec 2019

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

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.

Guns blaze in Ukraine as leaders meet in Paris

Hundreds of explosions and bursts of small arms fire were reported on the contact line in east Ukraine, as France prepares to host the first peace summit on the war in three years.

News in Brief

  1. MEPs: Finnish budget proposal 'impossible to implement'
  2. EP committee supports 'Future of EU Conference'
  3. EU survey: climate change must be parliament's priority
  4. Zahradil resigns as rapporteur on EU-Vietnam trade deal
  5. Russia plans 'Arctic Air Defence" with S-400 missiles
  6. Belgium: King does another round of consultations
  7. Thousands protest Orban's theatre clampdown
  8. Russia and Ukraine agree ceasefire by new year

Magazine

EU diplomacy 2.0

MEPs on the foreign affairs committee ought to be like second-tier EU diplomats on the Western Balkans and Russia, according to its German chairman, but foreign policy splits could bedevil its work.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us