Saturday

21st Jul 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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our 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.

EU and Japan wave light in Trump's 'darkness'

EU leaders and Japanese prime minister signed a series of agreements, including the EU's biggest trade deal ever, designed as an answer to the disruption of the world order by the US president.

Opinion

EU must create safe, legal pathways to Europe

As the rapporteur for the European Parliament on an EU regulation on resettlement, my colleagues and I have outlined an effective plan based on solidarity and humanitarian principles.

News in Brief

  1. Libyan PM rejects EU migrant camps idea
  2. Italy's Salvini to sue critical anti-mafia writer
  3. EU countries send aircraft to Sweden to help with wildfires
  4. British ex-commissioner's jobs called into question
  5. May to tell EU to drop Irish border 'backstop' idea
  6. Trump threatens EU over Google fine
  7. Spain withdraws arrest warrant for Catalan separatists
  8. EU readies counter-measures on possible US car tariffs

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us