Why FIFA’s president will never get the PLO to compromise
From Sky News, Tuesday:
FIFA President Sepp Blatter has held crisis talks in Jerusalem aimed at averting a Palestinian bid to have Israel suspended from international football.
The Palestinian Football Association is preparing to push a motion calling for Israel’s suspension at the FIFA annual congress later this month.
Mr Blatter emerged “very hopeful” from talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Mr Blatter did reveal that Mr Netanyahu had agreed to a “match of peace” between the national teams of Israel and Palestine, though no date has yet been put forward.
Last week FIFA issued a statement on behalf of Mr Blatter stating “any member association that is fulfilling its statutory duties should not be suspended. This would apply to the Israeli Football Association as long as they fulfil such duties”.
But the head of the Palestinian FA, Jibril Rajoub, has outlined a number of complaints which he says demonstrate violations of FIFA’s standards and ethics.
What Blatter doesn’t realize is that Jibril Rajoub has no intention of compromise. The entire reason he heads the Palestine Football Association is political – he cares nothing about sports.
How do I know? Besides reading his own statements, there is lots about him in the Tuvia Tenenbom book “Catch the Jew“:
Rajoub knows that sports stories make headlines and he wants to make Israel look like South Africa.
So I could have told Blatter that he was wasting his time trying to get the PLO to drop the threats against Israel. But Rajoub beat me to it:
The Palestinian Football Association will not drop its bid to have its Israeli counterpart suspended from FIFA, the organisation’s chief said Wednesday after talks with the head of the world footballing body.
“We will keep the proposal on the agenda (of the upcoming FIFA Congress) for sincere and open discussions by the 208 FIFA member associations,” Jibril Rajoub said at a joint press conference with FIFA chief Sepp Blatter.
“There will be no compromising on free movement of our athletes and officials.”
Rajoub also welcomed the idea of an Israel-Palestine “match for peace” but said conditions were not yet ready for such a game.
“Yesterday, you raised a very great idea … It’s a creative idea, I like it,” he told FIFA president Sepp Blatter at the press conference.
“But we have to pave the road for that, we have to prepare the environment. But this should be an endgame, this should be a purpose for you and I urge you not to give up,” he said.
Oh, by the way, when Rajoub tells Blatter that he welcomes the idea of a “peace match,” he is lying through his teeth. Because last year he said (in Arabic, naturally) that a friendly match between Palestinian arab and Jewish children was a “crime against humanity.”
The entire issue is political, and has nothing to do with sports. FIFA should understand this and see Jibril Rajoub for what he is doing – cynically using football as a weapon.
By the way, Rajoub in 2005 said that after Israel’s disengagement from Gaza, Gaza would become a model for a Palestinian state.
He got that right, but not the way he intended.