‘Political Bias and Hypocrisy’ – Rights Groups Pressure FIFA to suspend Israel

FIFA President Gianni Infantino. (Photo: UN, via Wikimedia Commons)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

Rights groups have accused FIFA of applying “a different yardstick to Israeli actions” which undermines its credibility and exposes the world football body “to allegations of political bias and hypocrisy.”

Human rights groups are ramping up pressure on the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) over its failure to suspend Israel from international competition.

The 60 organizations from all over the world include the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) and Citizens International which, in a letter to FIFA on Monday, demanded “the immediate suspension of Israeli football teams from all competitions in light of its ongoing genocide” in the besieged Gaza Strip.

The letter said that “To date, Israeli forces have killed over 30,000 people, more than 70% of them women and children, in addition to having attacked residential homes, schools, hospitals, ambulances, mosques and churches and even fleeing civilians.”

“The onslaught is so indiscriminate and destructive that Israel has found itself hauled before the International Court of Justice to answer charges of genocide,” the organizations said.

It added that the “scale of horrors being inflicted on the largely defenseless Palestinian population far surpass the human cost of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.”

“It is therefore surprising that while both UEFA and FIFA suspended Russia from all competitions in 2022, they continue to turn a blind eye to Israel with the result that its teams continue to participate freely in international competitions,” the organizations stressed.

“We are sure you will agree that applying a different yardstick to Israeli actions undermines your credibility and exposes you to allegations of political bias and hypocrisy,” it said.

With its recent actions, Israel “is demonstrating that it is clearly unfit to be a member of the community of sporting nations.”

Case of Russia

The organizations urged FIFA to do “the right thing and apply the same sanctions to Israel that you have done in the case of Russia.”

The latest development comes as numerous other associations have already called on FIFA to suspend Israel over its genocidal attack on Gaza.

In February, a group of twelve Middle Eastern football associations, which constitute the West Asian Football Federations (WAFF), urged FIFA to ban Israel from global participation in the sport.

The group reportedly called upon FIFA, the Football Confederations, and Member Associations to join in “a united front in isolating the Israeli Football Association from all football-related activities until these (Israel’s) acts of aggression cease.”

The Israeli Football Association criticized the call as “a cynical and shameless move by a few associations.”

Gaza Footballers Targeted

On Monday, Palestinian footballer Mohammed Barakat, 39, was killed after the Israeli occupation forces bombed his home in Khan Yunis.

Barakat, known as the ‘Legend of Khan Yunis’ was one of the top scorers and the first player in Gaza to score 100 goals for one team.

He represented the Palestinian national team and Al-Ahli Gaza football club in the local league.

‘Legend of Khan Yunis’ – Israel Kills Top Gaza, Arab Footballer

In January, Hani al-Masdar, known in the Palestinian sports community as Abu al-Abed, was killed in an airstrike on Gaza City. He was the coach of the Palestinian Olympic football team.

At the time, the Palestinian Association said more than “1,000 members of the youth, sports and scouting movement” were killed so far in the Israeli genocidal war on Gaza, which started on October 7.

The head of the Association accused Israel of “targeting sports facilities and the headquarters of the Palestinian sports and clubs.”

Palestine Olympic Football Team Coach Killed by Israel in Gaza – Over 1,000 Athletes Killed so far

Apartheid South Africa

FIFA is the international governing body for football and seeks to develop the game around the world. But the organization also aims to “embrace its responsibility to respect human rights across its operations and relationships,” according to its website.

It “is committed to respecting all internationally recogniszed human rights and shall strive to promote the protection of these rights.”

FIFA suspended the South African FA from international competition in 1965 and expelled it from the association in 1976, due to its policy of apartheid. The country returned to the world stage after 16 years.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

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