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Friday, August 16, 2013

FIFA threatens to expel Israel

FIFA, the world soccer federation, is threatening to expel Israel over its refusal to allow 12 Arab National Federation teams into the 'Palestinian territories' to play in the West Asian Football Federation under-17 championship tournament that was due to begin on Thursday. But Israel didn't refuse to allow the entire teams in - only certain suspicious individuals.
During President Blatter’s recent “diplomatic mission” to Ramallah on Sunday, The Jewish Chronicle reported that the FIFA president relayed the threats of PFA’s leader Jibril Rajub that he would call on delegates at FIFA’s upcoming congress to expel Israel if the matter is not resolved.
Rajoub told reporters, "We ask [FIFA] for a red card, because the yellow card has been raised now for a long time." He added, "We are clinging to the red card to take away the Israeli occupation's legitimacy and we will not accept any compromise."
The threats came when Israel denied representatives of the West Asian Football Federation (WAFF), including 12 Arab national football associations, permits to enter the PA territories to play in the WAFF Under-17's Championship, that was due to begin Thursday.
“Three managers of the Jordanian football union, two UAE representatives and 13 managers and players from Iraq were refused entry,” Rajoub said.
Rajoub reportedly told AFP that WAFF called upon FIFA to "put pressure on Israel to issue the necessary permits" for the tournament.
Israel is not the only country the FIFA has threatened in the past. The country of Cameroon was suspended last week over government interference in the country’s football federation. “If Israel is not careful the only team it will be able to play is Cameroon,” Blatter told Israel Football Association Chairman Avi Luzon.
Blatter continued to say that this only a warning for Israel, “I hope we won’t need to suspend Israel. The Euro Under-21 tournament in Israel was a huge success and it’s a shame that everything would be ruined. We are not talking about a yellow card but a warning.” 
The sanction is ridiculous, but then so was the sanction against Cameroon (which was lifted in July).
There had been confusion within Cameroon football before the ban with federation elections postponed on several occasions.

When the elections did go ahead, Iya Mohamed was re-elected president despite the fact he is being detained by the authorities in Cameroon.
He is being investigated after being accused of embezzling money at state-owned Cotton Development Company.
Soon after the election results were announced, Fecafoot's elections appeals committee declared them void.
In the aftermath, John Begheni Ndeh announced himself head of the federation and started work with the help of police, which was deemed as political interference by Fifa.
Every country has the right to control its borders - even in the face of a soccer federation.

The WAFF's under-21 tournament is scheduled for the 'Palestinian territories' in October so look forward to more of this.

The picture at the top is a reminder of how the soccer stadium in Gaza (paid for by FIFA twice) was being used nine months ago today.

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