FIFA threatens to expel Israel over treatment of Palestinian footballers
FIFA has threatened to expel Israel over its treatment of Palestinian football players and officials in the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip.
The Inside World Football website said in a report on Monday that FIFA gave Israel until summer to improve playing conditions and travel for the Palestinian players and officials.
FIFA also warned that Israel would face a complete expulsion from the international federation if it fails to address the issue.
FIFA has launched a mediation task force over the matter.
Palestinian football official Jibril Rajoub has met with FIFA President Sepp Blatter in an effort to resolve the long-term difficulties Palestinian footballers face due to Israel’s policies.
FIFA wants Palestinian and Israeli football officials to sign a formal agreement over the issue at or around the June congress of FIFA. However, Palestinian officials say that the agreement could not be signed while Israelis continue to impose travel permit restrictions on everyone from footballers to consultants.
They also say that such restrictions often keep the Palestinian national team from competing with its complete squad. The bans also restrict hosting games in the occupied West Bank.
Israelis say FIFA has mixed politics and sport.
In January, Israeli forces shot and injured two Palestinian football players in the West Bank. Jawhar Nasser Jawhar, 19, and Adam Abd al-Raouf Halabiya, 17, were shot while walking home from a training session in the Faisal al-Husseini Stadium in the town of al-Ram.
The two were told that they might not be able to play again.