Campaigners Call on FIFA to Ban Football Clubs in Illegal Israeli Settlements from Joining League

Mahmoud Sarsak was locked up without trial or charge for three years. (Photo: Free the Hares boys campaign, file)

Campaigners are demanding that football clubs in illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank to be banned from playing in Israeli leagues.

FIFA’s Council will be meeting next week (Jan 9 to 10) to decide the issue and the Red Card Israeli Racism campaign urges the council to be guided by International Law and FIFA Statute 72 (2).

Spokesperson Dr. Geoff Lee said that under the Fourth Geneva Convention, the Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal. Allowing settlers to play in the Israeli leagues was tantamount to supporting the Occupation.

“It is invidious to give them this status, glossing over the fact that the settlements are built on Palestinian-owned land and are a grave breach of International Law” he said.

“Meanwhile football matches between Palestinian clubs in the Occupied Palestinians Territories are routinely disrupted because Israeli soldiers won’t allow teams to move freely about their own country.

“Footballers have been shot in the feet. Palestinian center forward Mahmoud Sarsak was locked up without trial or charge for three years. He will never play football to the same standard again following the treatment he received at the hands of his gaolers.

“This is the reality in the Palestinian territories.

“Israelis will argue that the situation is very complicated, that the status quo should be maintained in order to keep football clear of politics. But the legal situation is not at all complicated. FIFA does not need to take a political decision, but simply to observe international law.”

Dr Lee cited the support of high profile lawyers such as QCs Geoffrey Bindman, Michael Mansfield as well as former UN Special Rapporteurs John Dugard and Richard Falk. Twenty-five MPs and more than 60 MEPs had also lent their names to the campaign, he added.

(For more information visit Red Card Israeli Racism website.)

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