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.


Champions League ready to resume, at long last

Robert Lewandowski, left, and Bayern Munich during their Marseille friendly ahead of the Champions League last 16 2nd leg against Chelsea. (Files/AFP)
Updated 19 min 48 sec ago

Champions League ready to resume, at long last

  • UEFA ‘confident’ no more delays despite virus cases among players at Real Madrid and Sevilla

PARIS: After an enforced hiatus of almost five months, the UEFA Champions League and Europa League resume this week in order to clear up the last remaining business in a troubled season.

Both competitions were frozen in March as the coronavirus pandemic took hold across the continent, and while European football’s governing body acted swiftly to move Euro 2020 back a year, for a long time it was unclear how it would manage to complete its two landmark club competitions.
In the end the solution was to set up two mini tournaments bringing all teams together in one place from the quarterfinals onwards, with all ties being decided in one-off matches behind closed doors.
And so the Champions League will move to Lisbon for the “Final Eight” starting on Aug. 12 and ending with the final at Benfica’s Estadio da Luz on Aug. 23.
The Europa League, meanwhile, will be played to a conclusion at a series of venues in western Germany, with the last eight beginning on Aug. 10 and the final in Cologne on Aug. 21.
“I believed it from the first moment,” said the UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin recently when asked if he ever doubted it would be possible to play the tournaments to a conclusion. “You should always be optimistic, and if something like this crisis happens, you must have a plan ready. “At the present time, we will be playing matches without spectators until further notice. We will not take any risks.”
There is, though, no question of further changes being made to the formats despite concerns about an increase in Covid-19 cases in and around Lisbon, and more recent worries in Germany about a rise in cases there.
UEFA also recently insisted it was “confident” there would be no more delays despite cases of coronavirus emerging among players at Real Madrid and Sevilla. It is, in any case, now or never.
Indeed, the preliminary round of next season’s Champions League begins next Saturday, the same day Bayern Munich entertain Chelsea and Napoli visit Barcelona in their outstanding last 16 second legs.
Before that, Manchester City defend a 2-1 first-leg lead at home against Real on Friday as Pep Guardiola’s side target Champions League glory on the back of the club’s success at getting a two-year ban from the competition overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The winner of that tie will face Juventus or Lyon in the quarterfinals in Lisbon.
It is the Europa League which is first up, though, with the last 16 being completed on Wednesday and Thursday.
Two ties — Inter Milan against Getafe and Sevilla against Roma — will go ahead as one-off ties in Germany as the first legs were never played.
Six second legs will also be played with the winners heading to Germany for the last eight.
Among the ties to be completed is Manchester United’s against Austrian side LASK, which will be a formality for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team after they won 5-0 in the first leg in March.
Their form since the Premier League resumed in mid-June has been excellent and they have already sealed a place in the 2020-21 Champions League, but now they want to finish this never-ending season with a trophy.
“Now our focus is on the Europa League because this is a really good trophy and we want to win,” Bruno Fernandes told MUTV.
“I came to Manchester to win trophies. We need to play every game to win. If we go into the Europa League and win every game, we know we’ll win the trophy.”
United, Europa League winners in 2017, could yet find themselves facing Premier League rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers in the semifinals in Cologne on Aug. 16 should both teams get there.
Wolves entertain Greek champions Olympiakos on Thursday having drawn 1-1 in the first leg of their last-16 tie.
Their campaign started more than a year ago now, with a 2-0 win over Northern Irish side Crusaders in the second qualifying round on July 25, 2019.
Extending it by another couple of weeks would do them no harm.