Israel’s participation in international football under fire

  • Post last modified:March 12, 2024
  • Reading time:3 mins read

The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) is facing pressure from dozens of global human rights groups over its failure to suspend Israel from international competitions. It comes after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) said it was investigating ‘plausible’ genocide accusations against the state.

FIFA: Israel must be suspended

The Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) and Citizens International have joined forces with 60 organisations from all over the world to demand that the world footballing body, FIFA, ban Israeli teams from all international competitions in the light of the country’s apartheid system and ongoing genocide in Gaza.

The letter, sent on Monday 11 March, calls on FIFA to suspend Israel in the same way that it suspended Russia from international competitions in response to its invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

A suspension is the first step towards an eventual expulsion from world football. The South African FA was suspended by FIFA in September 1965, and expelled from FIFA in 1976 for its operation of an apartheid political system.

FIFA is the governing body for world football and seeks to develop the game worldwide. But the organisation states that it holds philanthropic responsibilities and uses football as a tool to encourage social integration amongst communities around the world.

‘Hypocrisy and political bias’ from FIFA

To date Israeli forces have killed over 31,000 people in Gaza, more than 70% of them women and children. Israel has attacked residential homes, schools, hospitals, ambulances, mosques and churches, and even fleeing civilians.

The onslaught is so indiscriminate and destructive that Israel has found itself hauled before the ICJ to answer charges of genocide. In fact, the scale of the horrors being inflicted on the largely defenceless Palestinian population far surpass the human cost of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The letter states:

It is therefore surprising that while both UEFA and FIFA suspended Russia from all competitions in 2022, they continue to turn a blind eye to Israel with the result that its teams continue to participate freely in international competitions.

We are sure you will agree that applying a different yardstick to Israeli actions undermines your credibility and exposes you to allegations of political bias and hypocrisy.

The full text of the letter is available to read here.

Featured image via Wikimedia

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