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.

Juventus crowned Italian Super Cup champions

‘I’m very happy to have won my first title with Juventus,’ Cristiano Ronaldo said. (Photo/General Sports Authority)
Updated 17 January 2019

Juventus crowned Italian Super Cup champions

  • Ronaldo’s glancing header sinks AC Milan 1-0 at Jeddah’s King Abdullah Sports City Stadium

JEDDAH: A historic Wednesday evening at King Abdullah Sports City Stadium saw Italian champions Juventus beat AC Milan in the final of the 31st annual Supercoppa Italiana.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored the winning goal as Juventus lifted the Supercoppa Italiana for the first time since 2015 with a 1-0 victory in front of a sold-out 61,235-capacity crowd.

As only one should expect when two of the most successful Italian clubs go head to head, a tactical and elegant, albeit very physical, display of football was at hand. 

Cheerful roars from the Jeddah crowd resonated throughout the night, in the kind of buzzing atmosphere that only a cup final brings.

Juventus, the Serie A champions, began brightly and were the first side to settle into the game, threatening with frequent sweeping moves.

Juventus and Portuguese international Joao Cancelo could have opened the scoring in the 16th minute after being played through on goal, but the defender’s zooming effort lacked the necessary precision and whisked past the far post with the Milan keeper rooted in his spot.

A maddening crescendo of noise erupted when Juventus and French international Blaise Matuidi thought he had opened the scoring in the 33rd minute after being played through by Costa before being flagged offside. 

Juventus did not have too much longer for another opportunity though, with Ronaldo’s acrobatic half volley from just outside the six-yard box bouncing and nestling agonizingly just over the bar and sparing Donnarumma’s blushes in the process.

Christiano Ronaldo has scored eight goals in his last seven finals. (Reuters)

Milan, who qualified for the final as runners-up to Juventus in last season’s Coppa Italia, had struggled throughout the first half to settle into the game. They gradually grew into their own though, and nearly broke the deadlock at the stroke of halftime with a stinging drive from Turkish international Hakan Calhanoglu.

After a slew of opportunities had Juventus failing to build a halftime lead, Milan nearly made them pay for their squandered chances by starting the second half like bats out of hell. 

Milan’s confident pressing start to the half was almost rewarded in the 47th minute when a Ronaldo tackle inadvertently set up Cutrone with a clear sight on goal.  The striker turned and blasted an effort that rattled off the crossbar — the closest either team had come thus far.

And just when the tide seemed to have turned for Milan in the second half, their confidence building with every minute, a perfectly floating cross from Pjanic found Ronaldo with yards of space, and he made no mistake directing a swift header into the back of the net in the 61st minute and sending Juve supporters into a frenzy.

• AS IT HAPPENED: Cristiano Ronaldo's goal gives Juventus Supercoppa Italiana victory over AC Milan in Jeddah >>

• Arab News Matchday gallery >>

Things went from bad to worse for Milan in the 73rd minute. Franck Kessie came rushing in with a recklessly timed tackle, crunching his studs into the shins of Emre Can, which resulted in him seeing a straight red and leaving Milan with 10 men and a subsequent insurmountable uphill battle.

The final whistle came soon after, and with it brought Juventus a record eighth Supercoppa. It goes without saying that there is nothing quite like the atmosphere of a cup final, but this was a historic and monumental occasion for Jeddah. 

The first major European cup final match being held in Saudi Arabia is now in the books, and with it brought an added sense of passion and excitement. 

Thousands of men, women and children showed up enthusiastically, were highly supportive of both teams, and were thoroughly entertained. It was a successful and memorable night that will surely pave the way for many more.

Addressing a prematch press conference on Tuesday night, Juventus Captain Giorgio Chiellini had defended the choice of Jeddah as the venue for the game against a backdrop of criticism by some. He said that it was “right” to give the Saudi port city the chance to host the showpiece match.

“We (footballers) cannot change the world but initiatives such as this can provide a new start.”

Juventus had been experiencing a worrying trend in cup finals of late. Despite securing the Serie A and Coppa Italia double for three seasons running, they had lost back-to-back Supercoppas and seven out of nine European Cup finals. 

Chiellini, however, firmly believed that his team would change the trend and the team did make their captain proud. 

Juventus now holds the outright record of most Italian Super Cups with eight titles. (Arab News photo by Ali Khamg)