Only A Game? - Israeli racism allegations must be taken seriously

Fifa President, Sepp Blatter.
Fifa President, Sepp Blatter.
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Fifa must be brave and allow delegates to vote on whether to suspend Israel from world football.

The Palestinian Football Association (PFA) say the Israeli FA (IFA) has violated Fifa rules relating to racism, players’ free movement and where clubs are based.

The PFA is affiliated to Fifa and are entitled to the same rights as any other member state.

The PFA has raised the matter in 2013 and in 2014 but compromises were reached which meant the allegations never had to go to a vote.

The IFA has had more than enough chances to get its house in order when it comes to how it treats players and clubs from the PFA. It’s time for Fifa to be brave and to allow delegates the chance to examine the evidence for themselves and vote on whether to suspend the IFA from world football.

If Israel was suspended from world football it would send out such a strong message.

If a footballer or club is the target of racial abuse in the top echelons of football then there is, and rightly so, immediate outcry. The same rules should apply to both players playing in Palestine and in Israel.

The Palestinian and Israeli leagues are a far cry from Old Trafford and the Bernabeau but that doesn’t make any incident of alleged racial abuse any less serious.

Fifa, as world governing body. has a duty of care to all of its affiliated members. They must and should take the allegations being made by the PFA extremely seriously.

Rules exist for a reason and if the rules are broken there should be repercussions. The last thing a situation like this needs is to be trivialised but that is exactly what Fifa President Sepp Blatter is doing.

Israel’s besiegement of the Palestinian people has affected all strands of life in places like the Gaza Strip

Andrew Quinn - Sunday Journal sports columnist

In a bid to stop the allegations being made by the PFA going to a vote at the Fifa congress next week, Blatter has suggested both international sides play a ‘Peace Match’ in Zurich. How utterly condescending and arrogant!

Some politicians and human rights activists have dedicated their lives towards bringing relative peace to the Middle East but for some reason Blatter thinks he can solve the problem within 90 minutes.

Israel’s besiegement of the Palestinian people has affected all strands of life in places like the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

Education, health, infrastructure and even their football teams have never been allowed to realise their true potential.

Therefore, due to the gulf in resources available to both countries a football match would only benefit Israel.

It would give the occupying force more ammunition with which they can berate their neighbours. A football match between Israel and Palestine would be such a mismatch it does not even come under the umbrella of David versus Goliath.

The PFA is asking Fifa for their help and Fifa must answer.

The issues between Palestine and Israel have existed for over 100 years and I don’t hold out much hope for a solution being found in my lifetime.

Be that as it may, the fact remains, the PFA are well within their rights to ask Fifa to investigate the allegations.

When it comes to altruism Fifa does not have a great track record but those of us who still believe in fairness and equality continue to live in hope.