Thursday

13th Aug 2020

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. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe 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.

News in Brief

  1. Amazon people urge EU banks to stop funding pollution
  2. Russia vaccine could be "dangerous", Germany says
  3. EU to finance new Covid-19 research projects
  4. Croatia receives EU earthquake relief funds
  5. Facemasks required throughout Brussels
  6. EU opposes Mexico's transparent junk food labels
  7. Greece accuses Turkey of 'escalation' in maritime dispute
  8. Slovakia expels three Russians linked to Berlin murder

Feature

The Hagia Sophia and the global battle of symbols

The Turkish president's decision to restart Islamic worship services in Istanbul's Hagia Sophia last Friday is not innocent. So how should we react? By doing the opposite - and make Cordoba's famous Mosque/Cathedral in Cordoba a museum.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  3. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  5. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis

Latest News

  1. Belarus violence goes on, as EU ministers scramble
  2. French navy to deter Turkey's oil and gas grab
  3. EU ministers urged to talk Belarus, Turkey sanctions
  4. Drums of war again, in Europe
  5. EU looks on as Belarus protests turn lethal
  6. EU virus-alert agency says new restrictions needed
  7. Minsk violence prompts talk of EU sanctions
  8. Schrems privacy ruling risks EU's ties to digital world

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us