Thursday, 28 May 2015

Palestinians refuse to back down on Israel FIFA vote


ZURICH (AFP) -- Palestine's football chief on Wednesday continued his refusal to back down on a threatened vote to suspend Israel from football's governing body after talks with increasingly desperate FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

"Nothing has changed, the vote is still on the agenda," Palestinian Football Association president Jibril Rajoub told AFP after the meeting with Blatter and as the countdown to Friday's vote gathered pace.

"The meeting lasted about one hour, there were no results," Rajoub said.

Palestine, which has been a FIFA member since 1998, wants the governing body to suspend Israel over its restrictions on the movement of Palestinian players, and opposes the participation in the Israeli championships of five clubs located in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, illegal under international law.

The vote is scheduled for Friday and needs a simple majority of over 50% of the 209 members to succeed.

Blatter has been lobbying furiously to try to avoid the vote, travelling to the Middle East last week to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and president Mahmoud Abbas.

Blatter strongly opposes the vote saying it brings politics into football and that Israel has not breached FIFA's statutes.

Israel Football Association President Ofer Eini was not in Wednesday's meeting and his delegation did not say whether contacts with Blatter or Rajoub were planned.

Arab delegations at a Confederation of African Football meeting walked out when Eini addressed the confederation in a Zurich hotel.

Rajoub said he opposed the protest and the Arab delegations should have stayed. more

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