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Palestinians to pursue FIFA for ‘violations’

Jibril Rajoub
AMMAN: Jibril Rajoub, president of the Palestinian Football Association, told Arab News that the association plans to legally challenge the FIFA Council’s decision to allow the Israeli Football Association to continue violating FIFA bylaws and international law.
“I expect we will submit our legal document with CAS (the Court of Arbitration in Sports) in the coming days, probably Tuesday or Wednesday,” he said.
In a press conference in Ramallah on Sunday, Rajoub said that FIFA had “betrayed its own principles, insulted Palestinian football and granted impunity to blatant violations of the FIFA statutes.” Rajoub also noted that the latest decision of the FIFA council taken in Kalkuta, India, on Oct. 26 violates its “newly affirmed commitment to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.”
In a press statement issued alongside the press conference, the Palestinian Football Association raised the question of parity. “FIFA Council has forgotten that, in relation to human rights, there is no possible equidistance: One can either stand with the rights of the victims; or the conduct of the perpetrators; and, in this case, the FIFA Council has elected to stand with the perpetrators.”
In the interview with Arab News, Rajoub praised Ibrahim Al-Khalifa, head of the Asian Football Confederation, for supporting an AFC member association in its pursuit of justice. However, Rajoub lashed out at the European confederation which voted against its own principles and those of its member countries. “They voted to keep the status quo which is in violation of international humanitarian law; and of UN resolutions that FIFA is accountable to.”
Swiss and EU law are very clear on banning “financial transactions, investments, purchases, acquisitions or any other economic activities” linked to exclusively built Jewish settlements in occupied Palestinian territories, or benefiting the settlements.
Human Rights Watch came out with a strong statement disputing FIFA’s claims. Human Rights Watch had documented the case of the violations by Jewish settlement clubs in a 2016 report entitled: “FIFA sponsoring games on seized lands.”
Omar Shakir, Human Rights Watch director in Palestine and Israel, told Arab News that his organization is “incredibly disappointed” with FIFA. “There is nothing political about following one’s own rules. FIFA is rubber-stamping games played on stolen land and this decision even violates FIFA’s latest human rights commitment,” he told Arab News.
The FIFA council decision that legitimizes settlements comes despite the inclusion in the report of Chairman Tokyo Sexwale of the binding UN Security Council resolution 2334 which states that Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories are illegal.
“How FIFA could admit and list a binding UN Security Council resolution and then says it is not bound by it is amazing and shows lack of honesty and credibility,” Rajoub noted.