The Palestinian Authority, disappointed with FIFA’s rejection of its petition against Israel, declared its intended to appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. FIFA responded harshly, insisting that the petition would be denied no matter what, and reiterated that message to a letter to the UN: ‘We will not deal with political issues, we are not a playground for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.’

Palestinian Football Association's Jibril Rajoub

Palestinian Football Association’s Jibril Rajoub Photo Credit: Reuters/ Channel 2 News

Two weeks have passed since the World Football Association (FIFA) announced that it was rejecting the Palestinian petition to disqualify Israeli teams that play in the West Bank. The drama, however, seems far from being over.

FIFA recently informed Israeli Minister for Regional Cooperation Tzachi Hanegbi and Israel’s Ambassador to South Africa Lior Keinan that the Palestinians have not given up the fight and that they have decided to refer their petition to the international Court of Arbitration for Sport. 

According to Tokyo Sexwale, chairman of the FIFA Monitoring Committee Israel-Palestine, the Palestinians are basing their argument on a technical pretext: The request to disqualify Israel from the organization was supposed to have been rejected by a special majority of 75%, and not by a simple majority.

The Palestinian insistence on pushing forward their agenda despite FIFA’s decision apparently provoked much anger among the organization’s top echelon, who had a harsh message for the head of the Palestinian Football Association Jibril Rajoub: “We are determined to reject your request again, even with an absolute majority.”

Meanwhile, FIFA President Gianni Infantino sent UN Secretary-General António Guterres a letter saying that FIFA is tired of dealing with political issues. “We are not a playground for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Infinino said.

As reported earlier by JOL, the Palestinian Football Association, led by Jibril Rajoub of Fatah, had submitted a petition to FIFA claiming that five Israeli teams were violating the rules of the organization by playing in Palestinian territories. Aleksander Čeferin, the President of UEFA, told the Israeli Football Association on Friday that FIFA decided to dismiss the petition during a council meeting in Kolkata, India, describing it as an Israeli-Palestinian political dispute.