PRESS STATEMENT BDS SA backs call on FIFA to give Israeli settlement teams the red card

The Palestine solidarity and human rights organisation BDS South Africa has joined the international campaign calling on FIFA to “red card” Israeli settlement teams. The call has been backed by over 150 000 signatories on an online Avaaz petition with various organisations now being approached to endorse the call (click here).

Israel has set up six soccer clubs in illegal Israeli settlements on illegally occupied Palestinian land. FIFA laws prohibit using another country’s land without consent. In fact, FIFA has various precedents. After the Russian occupation of Crimea in March 2014, FIFA/UEFA prohibited Crimean football clubs from playing in the Russian league.

BDS South Africa supports the view echoed by Martin Konecny, director of the European Middle East Project (EuMEP) based in Brussels, and Hugh Lovatt of the European Council of Foreign Relations that “this is a case where FIFA’s own laws need to be applied, not negotiated or bent.” (click here)

South African FIFA official, Tokyo Sexwale, is part of a FIFA investigation as to whether these Israeli settlement teams should be allowed to participate in international football. The next FIFA council meeting is on the 13th of October in Zurich where it is hoped that this issue will take centre stage.

Israeli settlements are Jewish only zones built on Palestinian land illegally occupied by Israel, created by the forced Israeli removal of the indigenous Palestinian people and the demolition of their homes and communities. The illegal Israeli settlements are not only an obstacle to peace but are also illegal under international law having been condemned from the South African Government to the European Union and the USA. Israeli settlement football teams legitimise the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine and condone the suffering of the indigenous Palestinians. Palestinians aren’t allowed into the Israeli settlement stadiums, let alone allowed to play football there (click here).

The Israeli Football Association must either remove the settlement football clubs from its membership or must lose its membership with FIFA, as has been the case with other federations that have refused to accept FIFA’s fair play rules in the past.

Various events, protest actions and public participation programmes will be rolled out in the coming weeks in support of this campaign and the call on FIFA.

In 1961 South Africa was also previously expelled from FIFA. South Africa was readmitted in 1963 by pro-Apartheid supporters who attempted to argue that politics should stay out of sports. However, South Africa was eventually re-expelled in 1964 until Apartheid and its human rights abuses ended in South Africa. There is a similar campaign today calling for the expulsion of Israel from international football and other sporting bodies (click here).

Sean Jacobs, editor of Africa is a Country and co-editor of “Apartheid Israel: The Politics of an Analogy” together with Aubrey Bloomfield of the New School in New York City have recently written that: “This may be the year in which sport, especially soccer, emerges as the next frontier in the global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign to isolate Israel over its occupation of Palestine. And the ball is in BDS’s court…”. Click here for the rest of their article.



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