More than one hundred sports associations, trade unions, human rights organizations and faith based groups (representing millions of people from over 25 countries across the globe) together with football champions, scholars, students, film directors, politicians and government officials have written an open letter calling on FIFA to implement its own rules and give Israel the red card over its inclusion of 6 teams from the illegal Israeli settlements. The letter was delivered to FIFA ahead of the world soccer body’s upcoming 67th Congress taking place between the 10 and 11 2017.
Signatories include former United Nations Special Rapporteur Richard Falk, former Brazilian Minister for Human Rights Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, SACP Central Committee Member and South African Minister of Sports & Recreation Thulas Nxesi (signed in his personal capacity), former athlete and President of Peru’s Congress Daniel Fernando Abugattás Majluf, former Peruvian football champion Juan Carlos Oblitas Saba, and renowned British filmmakers Ken Loach and Paul Laverty.
In addition, the letter is endorsed by the Italian Union of Sport for All (UISP), with 1.3 million members and more than 17 750 affiliated sports associations, the CUT Brazilian trade union federation representing over 7 million people, the well respected UK charity War on Want and NGO platforms from France (40 organizations), human rights groups from Norway (30 organizations), and local Southern African bodies including the Swaziland Solidarity Network, South Africa’s National Coalition 4 Palestine (40+ groups), Botswana for BDS and the Kenya Palestine Solidarity Movement.
The letter has been backed by faith based groups including Pax Christi UK, Friends of Sabeel (the Palestinian Christian liberation theology group), American Friends Service Committee, Lutherans for Justice in the Holy Land, United Church of Christ Palestine Israel Network, United Methodists for Kairos Response (UMKR), Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East and the Episcopal Peace Fellowship Palestine Israel Network. A number of Jewish groups have also endorsed the letter, including Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), the Union of French Jews for Peace, Jews for Justice for Palestinians-UK, Sweden’s Jews for a Just Peace between Israel and Palestine, the Swiss-based Jewish Voice for Democracy and Justice in Israel/Palestine and South African Jews for a Free Palestine.
The letter slams FIFA for its repeated delays over the question of Israel’s FIFA status given the country’s inclusion of 6 teams from the illegal Israeli settlements. The open letter exposes FIFA for running afoul of its own commitment to respect and promote internationally recognized human rights. “This laudable goal will be judged by the extent of its implementation in real-life contexts,” states the letter, noting it will be a tragedy for all and a poor commentary on FIFA if its newly-declared policy “falls at the first hurdle.” Click here for a copy of the letter sent to FIFA with the full list of signatories.