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Monday, July 12, 2010

FIFA bans Gilad Shalit t-shirts and flags at World Cup final

The Johannesburg Jewish community (which listens to yours truly every Monday morning on Chai FM) called off plans to wear t-shirts and wave flags calling for the release of kidnapped iDF corporal Gilad Shalit at the World Cup soccer final on Sunday night because FIFA - world soccer's governing body - insisted that to do so would be a 'political act.'
The world soccer federation FIFA has banned the waving of “Free Shalit” flags at the World Cup, calling it a political act. Fearing lawsuits and political recriminations, the Johannesburg Jewish Community Center called off a planned flag-waving protest at the World Cup finale between Spain and Holland Sunday.

The FIFA decision prevents the flags from being seen by hundreds of millions of viewers throughout the world who are expected to view the championship game. Shalit was kidnapped four years ago last month by Hamas and allied terrorists in an attack on an Israeli army checkpoint at a Gaza crossing.
Flags calling for Shalit's freedom were prominent at earlier rounds of the tournament.
'Free Gilad Shalit' flags have been seen in stadia throughout South Africa during the tournament and were particularly prominent at Tuesday night's semi-final between Uruguay and Holland.

The Jewish Agency's emissary in Cape Town Omer Calderon said, "The matches in South Africa have been an historic opportunity to get an important message across and for the Jewish community to show solidarity with the struggle to free Gilad Shalit."
This is not the first time that FIFA has acted against Israel's interests. In April 2006, FIFA protested an Israeli air strike against an empty soccer field in Beit Lahiya in the Gaza Strip, which was being used to fire rockets at Southern Israel. Eventually, FIFA decided to pay for the field's repair.

Between October 2001 and April 2004, UEFA - FIFA's European branch - banned Israel's national team and clubs from playing home games in Israel in international competitions due to the potential for terror attacks.

In the last World Cup, FIFA rebuked a Ghanian player who also played for Israel's HaPoel Tel Aviv for waving an Israeli flag after scoring a goal.

I'm not very into soccer (my friends in Johannesburg were disappointed about that), but I would love to see Israel get into the next World Cup tournament just to see the looks on the faces of FIFA's brass.


At 4:10 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

I would too, Carl.

The beautiful game is compromised by anti-Semitism and raw politics just like everything else in life.

Don't expect it to improve anytime soon.


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