The Palestine Football Association (PFA) announced on Tuesday the cancellation of a meeting with FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, the official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.
PFA President Jibril Rajoub, who was supposed to meet with Infantino in Ramallah, decided to cancel the meeting over the latter’s attendance of an event along with former US ambassador to Israel David Friedman at the “Museum of Tolerance”, built over the historic Islamic cemetery of Ma’manullah, in the occupied city of East Jerusalem.
PFA said in a press statement that it “regrets the decision of FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, to take part in two events that take place today at the so-called “Musuem of Tolerance”, an edifice built over the Ma’manullah Islamic cemetery, the oldest Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem dating back to the 11th century,” while noting that it views his participation “as a total affront to the values of religious tolerance and peaceful coexistence, both endorsed by the FIFA statutes.”
Among the politicians and business leaders to attend the Jerusalem Post Conference at the Museum of Tolerance was @FIFAcom president Gianni Infantino, and he kicked off his first Israel visit with talk of the World Cup.#JPostConference | #WorldCuphttps://t.co/oO7WLV2bRM
— The Jerusalem Post (@Jerusalem_Post) October 12, 2021
In the statement, PFA explained that it received a letter from Infantino last Thursday, in which he expressed “his wish to visit both Palestine and Israel on Monday 11th and stated that he was invited to speak at some events in Israel and hoped to meet the political leaders in both countries to discuss the issues that have long hindered the development of football in Palestine and find possible solutions to pending problems.”
While PFA, as expressed in the statement, viewed the letter in a very positive light and started preparations for the long-awaited visit, it simultaneously notified Infantino’s office of the importance of not taking part in any Israeli-organized activities on occupied Palestinian territory as defined by international law, including East Jerusalem.
“We received confirmation that the President is well aware of our considerations,” the statement added.
FIFA's #Infantino saying "We must kick racism out of football" at the @FIFAcom awards means nothing the same day Israel cancels the #FIFA #Palestine Cup again & bans the #Gaza team. When is Israel's racism unacceptable? https://t.co/hqKpZh3DwT #boycottpuma https://t.co/mTeKOCdsBP pic.twitter.com/iySn9CcKAu
— MANPalestine Action (@ManPalestine) September 27, 2019
During his visit to Palestine, Infantino was expected to hold meetings with the political level, the PFA’s Executive Committee and partners. He was also expected to lay the foundation stone for the PFA Technical Center and kick-start the final match of the Women’s seven-a-side league.
The PFA President Rajoub wrote an urgent letter to the FIFA President, urging him not to take part in events since that would convey a message is contradictory with “his public messages regarding FIFA’s commitment to human rights and the values of peaceful co-existence.”
The Palestinian Authority has canceled a meeting with FIFA President Gianni Infantino due to his scheduled appearance at the Friedman Center's inaugural gala.#FIFA | #Palestine | #Israelhttps://t.co/PX2LEqWVtr
— The Jerusalem Post (@Jerusalem_Post) October 11, 2021
In his letter, Rajoub warned Infantino that “this participation will be seen by many FIFA members as a politicization of football, something which the FIFA President so adamantly opposed” and “went further to say that the FIFA President’s participation will be seen as a desecration of the Holy Site and will not contribute to bringing people together, but rather pull them apart.”
“By deciding to ignore our concerns, and since we do not have the right to interfere in the agenda of a FIFA President, our only remaining alternative was to send our regrets for being unable to receive the FIFA delegation under such circumstances,” the statement added.
(WAFA, PC, Social Media)