Palestinians to pursue FIFA for ‘violations’

Jibril Rajoub
Updated 29 October 2017

Palestinians to pursue FIFA for ‘violations’

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.

KSA’s martial arts heroine: ‘I got into kickboxing by coincidence, as I just wanted to join a gym’

Updated 19 March 2019

KSA’s martial arts heroine: ‘I got into kickboxing by coincidence, as I just wanted to join a gym’

  • Young Saudi triumphant at Open International Tournament despite just two years of training
  • Zahra Al-Qurashi took the gold in the women’s 70 kg category, beating Jordanian Heba Wasfi

JEDDAH: Zahra Al-Qurashi never expected to be where she is today: A gold medal winner in full contact kickboxing at the Open International Tournament for Clubs aged just 21. What started out as a gym class two years ago soon turned into a passion, leading to her victory in Amman on Sunday.

“I got into kickboxing by coincidence, as I just wanted to join a gym. I found the class and gave it a try, and decided to keep attending the classes,” she said. “A year ago, I joined Flagboxing Gym, and started training with my coach Grethe (Kraugerud). With her help, I developed my style and I am improving every day.”

Full contact is a discipline of kickboxing where punches and kicks must be delivered to legal areas of the body. According to the World Association for Kickboxing Organizations’ rules, it is legal to attack the front of the head and front and side of the torso, using “ankle-level foot sweeps.” It is prohibited to attack the throat, lower abdomen, back, legs, joints, back of the head and top of the shoulders.

A medal at her first international competition, then, speaks volumes about Al-Qurashi’s tenacity. She took the gold in the women’s 70 kg category, beating Jordanian Heba Wasfi.

“As soon as I entered the ring, everything went blank, I couldn’t hear or see anyone but my opponent, so I don’t really recall hearing my name even,” said Al-Qurashi. “I got a couple of really good kicks and punches, but she was a good opponent. I was in my own zone though, following every move and made sure I didn’t make mistakes.”

Zahra Al-Quraishi, 21, is already a gold medal winner at an international event despite being a virtual rookie in the demanding sport of kickboxing. (Supplied photos)

Hala Al-Hamrani, the owner of Flagboxing Gym in Jeddah, said: “I am over the moon. I have dreamt about this happening for 16 years, ever since I started coaching. My goal was to eventually provide the ladies of this country with an opportunity to compete.”

For approximately two months, Kraugerud, from Norway, oversaw Al-Qurashi’s workouts, adding more sparring, interval training and intense ring practice.

“I’ve had Zahra spar with men, who are bigger and stronger than her, to give her a sense of what to expect in the ring, to give her more confidence and make her mentally prepared,” said Kraugerud. “I was very proud of her as she entered the ring, you could see the respect for the sport reflected in her. We did a really good job at Flag, we really pushed for this together as a team. She’s young, but she’s talented and she will go far.”

Al-Hamrani, a member of the Saudi Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) Federation, added: “We got her ready by providing her with the right practice and training. It’s a dream come true and it’s very overwhelming because it was such a long process for something like this to happen. Zahra is an up-and-coming athlete who hopefully has a long future and I’m extremely excited to see what that future holds.”

Abdul Aziz Julaidan, chairman of the Saudi MMA Federation, hailed the result after a tough bout between the two competitors, and thanked Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, chairman of the General Sport Authority, for the support he had given to the team.

Upon returning to her hometown of Jeddah, Al-Qurashi was greeted by her mother. “I was hugging her and crying and mom, being mom, asked if I was crying because I got hit,” she laughed. “That was her way of saying: I’m proud of you.”