By David Daoud
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned on Thursday that
acceding the Palestinian demand to suspend Israel from Fifa threatened
to unravel the international soccer organization.
In an interview with reporters in Tel Aviv, Netanyahu commented on
Friday’s vote to oust Israel at the Fifa congress in Zurich, calling it a
“blatant intrusion of politics into the field of sports.”
According to Netanyahu, who is also an avid soccer fan, “sport has
become an arena of goodwill and cooperation between peoples, and because
of that an attempt to attack Israel in Fifa will cause Fifa to
The prime minister added that Israel was currently holding talks with
the organization, but at this point it was impossible to know what
decision it would take regarding the Israeli Football Association’s
membership. Netanyahu said that if the decision to suspend Israel is
accepted, “we will fight and condemn it.”
Netanyahu noted that he conveyed this message to Fifa President Sepp Blatter.
Netanyahu’s made the comments against the backdrop of the relentless
attack against Israel launched by the chairman of the Palestinian
Football Association, Jibril Rajoub, who has pushed to have the Jewish
state suspended from Fifa.
On Thursday, Rajoub said that, “despite the sincere intentions of
Sepp Blatter, the Israeli Football Association has chosen to be an
instrument of apartheid, rather than an instrument of peace.”
“To my great disappointment,” Rajoub continued, “the Israeli Football
Association is loyal to the extreme political agenda of its
In response to the Palestinian campaign, the Israeli delegation to
Fifa is continuing its own efforts to prevent the passage of the
Palestinian recommendation to suspend Israel.
However, this afternoon, the CEO of the Israel Football Association, Rotem Kamer, struck a pessimistic tone, telling NRG that
despite the fact that the Israeli delegation “is working in a number of
hotels with a number of [soccer] confederations, among them UEFA, to
convince them to support our position,” there was a “lot of politics
here, and to our regret, Israel’s position is not favorable.”
Kamer noted his disappointment that the Palestinians chose this
particular forum to attack Israel, and “24 hours before the vote,
despite all of our efforts to find a solution, the Palestinian proposal
is still on the table. They are presenting us as an apartheid state.”
He added that there was a lot of political pressure, from Qatar and other Arab countries, to accept the Palestinian proposal.
“They have been indicating to Blatter that if he does not go along with them his position will also be in danger,” said Kamer.