2017 Activities

Finally, the Green Light is Given for the Establishment of the Civic Coalition for the Palestinian Right to Sports.. Jibirl Rajoub unveils the behind-scenes of the shelved vote on the Palestinian bid to FIFA

Finally, the Green Light is Given for the Establishment of the Civic Coalition for the Palestinian Right to Sports.. Jibirl Rajoub unveils the behind-scenes of the shelved vote on the Palestinian bid to FIFA

The Coalition for Integrity and Accountability – AMAN held a hearing session for the PMA Official Jibirl Rajoub to inform the public and civil society of the latest developments and obstacles to the vote on the FIFA Monitoring Committee report to suspend five Israeli clubs, which are based in the Israeli colonies across the Palestinian Territories. However, The vote has been adjourned to next March.
Abed Al Qader Al Husseni, AMAN chairperson, emphasized that this session is a response to the increasing impact of sports in the present time. Let alone the fact that each feat or defeat in the world of sports casts political shadows at the national and international levels. There is also a public need to be more open about the Palestinian sport performance and the Occupation’s impact thereon.

Politics has nothing to do with sports

On his part, Jibril Rajoub, head of the Palestine Football Association, argued that any relation between sports and politics could not be, but detrimental to the former. The roots of Palestinian sport activity dates back before the establishment of the Israel Proper. He also illustrated that there are four institutions concerned with sports, viz. the National Olympic Committee, the National Paralympic Committee, the Palestine Football Association, and the Palestinian National Scouts. These bodies work under the supervision banner of the Higher Council for Youth and Sports - Palestine
Rajoub seized this opportunity to highlight his openness to the civil society. He welcomed this first of a kind invitation to such a session, which hoped to help us pave a path for serious and constructive dialogue. Rajoub also insisted on the need to glean facts and information from their reliable sources without giving an ear to rumors and inaccurate news especially when it comes to critical issues such as the Israeli football clubs that are based in the settlements.

As for the bid to FIFA to expel the settlement clubs, Rajoub affirmed that the Palestine Football Association has filed a bid to FIFA in 2011 to hold the Israeli Football Association Accountable for allowing football clubs to be established in the outposts across the West Bank according to FIFA Statutes. As Article 72.2 thereof stands, “Member associations and their clubs may not play on the territory of another member association without the latter’s approval.” Rajoub also added that the Palestinian Football Association has made a bid to ban any football matches to be held in any settlement across the West Bank, which is recognized by FIFA as part of the Palestine Football Association territory. There six football clubs based in settlements across the West Bank and still are part of The Israel Football Association. The clubs are based in Ma'ale Adumim, Kiryat Arba, Giv'at Ze'ev, Bik'at HaYarden, and Oranit.

Rajoub admitted that the Palestinian bid had not been supported legally until 2015 wore on. International organizations have had discrepant positions on the demarcation of the Palestinian Territories. “If the vote had taken place back then, it would not have taken more than 50 votes.” Rajoub commented.
Rajoub also recalled how the agenda of the Congress at which the vote should have been made has disappeared completely from the FIFA archives. What’s more, we discovered later the tickets given to Israeli members to attend the Congress reached to 120 members. Let alone the triple pressure Israel has exerted to kill the vote at three fronts. First, the Israeli ambassadors all over the globe brought a great pressure on the delegated FIFA members. On its part, the American Administration made every endeavor to put the vote off. Third, Israel exerted considerable pressure on the Palestine Football Association to withdraw the bid.

On his part, Rajoub refused to bring any sort of pressure on the sister countries through the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and our embassies.

“I do not ask you to show me gratitude, but please do not tear me apart,” Rajoub said

The Palestinian sports face several challenges, namely the Occupation, the political schism, and the lack of human and material resources. The Occupation does it best when it comes to shackling the movement and travel of the Palestinian footballers. The Israeli Authorities never spares an occasion to deny the access of sports experts and equipment to Palestine. Above all that, Palestinians are denied the freedom to establish sport venues.
Rajoub also presented the recent progress in the Palestinian sport sphere in the face of all the stumbling stones to development. Nonetheless, any further development cannot see the light without more support and a terra firma ensured by the efforts of CSOs shoulder to shoulder with the relevant government institutions. Although Rajoub admitted the lack of resources, but he insisted that solutions need to be notched in order to let the rest of the world see Palestine on the international sport scene.
The FIFA president, Gianni Infantino has, finally, declared that FIFA will have it say on the settlement football clubs by the forthcoming October. But, the FIFA Council put forward a recommendation to the FIFA General Assembly that “more time is needed to evaluate the situation.” The Council request to adjourn the decision on the suspension of the settlement football clubs until March 2018 passed with 73% support. Infantino, however, has claimed that the decision would be made by the coming October.
On his part, Dr. Azmi Shuaibi, AMAN BoD Anti-Corruption consultant, confirmed that this hearing was convened to hold Rajoub accountable for the baseless adjournment of the aforesaid vote despite the hopes of Palestinians for a happy victorious end to this battle, which Palestinian CSOs has devoted every effort to make it a success. Therefore, the public has the right to know the reasons behind such a dramatic end.
The session was attended by representatives from the government institutions and CSOs plus a constellation of journalists and specialists. The participants unanimously agreed on the need to establish a civic coalition for Palestinian right to sports, provided that the coalition be functional at the national and international levels and communicate with the CSOs in pursuit of the Palestinian rights.
At the eleventh hour, the participants agreed to hold similar sessions in the offing to promote the financial and administrative transparency across the Palestinian sports associations.

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