Palestinians to pursue FIFA for ‘violations’

Jibril Rajoub
Updated 29 October 2017
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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.


Meet the Saudi Arabian businessman shaping squash’s Olympic dream

Updated 14 November 2018
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Meet the Saudi Arabian businessman shaping squash’s Olympic dream

LONDON: A Saudi Arabian businessman is driving the bid to get squash included in the Olympics for the first time.
The World Squash Federation has petitioned three times for squash to join the Games, but each bid has been rejected by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The decision has prompted frustration in the squash community, particularly as sports such as climbing, surfing and skateboarding have been admitted.
Ziad Al-Turki is the Chairman of the Professional Squash Association (PSA) and has done wonders in marketing the game and broadening its appeal. He is now pushing hard for the game to be showcased on the biggest stage of all at the 2024 Olympics Games in Paris.
Squash has huge global appeal, with the men’s singles final in the last Commonwealth Games attracting a TV audience of more than one million.
“Everyone’s ultimate goal is the Olympics,” said Al-Turki. “The main push comes from the World Squash Federation (WSF) and for many years they were stuck in their ways. We changed a lot at the PSA and ticked every box with the IOC. The WSF just stayed stagnant and didn’t do anything. They didn’t want to put our hand in their hand and work together.”
Relations between the PSA and the WSF came to a head in 2015 in the wake of squash losing out to wrestling for a spot at the 2020 Olympics. A statement from the PSA described the then president of WSF, Narayana Ramachandran, as an “embarrassment to the sport.”
“Nothing could happen with the president of the WSF. Nothing would change. It was just a one-man show. We tried to help but he wouldn’t accept any help,” Al-Turki said. “We have a new president now and they are all very keen,” he added.
Jacques Fontaine is the new president and at his coronation in 2016 he encouragingly said “the Olympic agenda remains a priority.”
“The WSF love the sport and they understand the needs of the IOC,” said Al-Turki.
“They understand the PSA is at a completely different level to the WSF and we’ve now joined forces and are working together. Hopefully 2024 will be the year squash is in the Olympics. Right now, the way we are working together is the strongest collaboration ever and hopefully we can tick all the boxes for the IOC.
“We ticked all the right bodies as a professional association but the WSF didn’t. Now they are putting their hands in ours and we will tick all the right boxes for the ICO.”
Al-Turki, once described as the Bernie Ecclestone of squash, has certainly transformed the sport since he took up office in 2008.
“When I joined the PSA we didn’t have any media coverage,” he said. “Right now we are live in 154 countries. the women’s tour has just grown stronger and stronger — the income has gone up by 74 percent.
“I just love the squash players. I think they are incredible athletes are are some of the fittest athletes in the world. I felt they deserved better and I wanted them to have better.
“I don’t think we’ll be able to reach the levels of football and tennis in terms of exposure and prize money, but I want to reach a level where they will retire comfortably. It’s one of the fastest growing sports in the world right now.
“It’s all about the player and their well being. Nick Matthew retired recently and I think he’s retired comfortably. I think I’ve contributed to this as the income has improved. That’s all I want – nothing more.”