09 May 2017

Ahead of the upcoming FIFA congress human rights, BDS and Palestine solidarity activists have held several meetings with national football associations around the world. Activists across the globe, including in Belgium, Japan, Malaysia, Italy, Germany and France among others, have been meeting and engaging with their respective football associations ahead of the crucial meeting taking place this week. BDS South Africa is pleased to announce that, as part of this international #RedCardIsrael campaign, activists held a successful meeting with the South African Football Association (SAFA).

BDS South Africa met both last year as well as last week with SAFA to discuss the motion by the Palestinian Football Association (PFA) led by Palestinian Minister of Sports Jibril Rajoub to have Israel suspended over its violations of FIFA rules and specifically its inclusion of teams from its illegal settlements.

BDS SA activists met at SAFA house with President Danny Jordaan and CEO Denis Mumble who were both very supportive of the issue. Jordaan explained how SAFA has previously and will continue to support the PFA at FIFA while Mumble reminded the BDS SA delegation of SAFA’s trip to Palestine a few years back for a friendly match with the Palestinian Under 21 team.

BDS SA is confident that South Africa will support the move to hold Israel accountable for abusing the internationally accepted FIFA standards of soccer. We believe that with SAFA supporting the Palestinians and their calls in this FIFA congress the outcome will deliver a major blow to the Israeli government and begin to end it’s impunity.

Israel is using the same excuse that Apartheid South Africa once used that “politics should stay out of sport”. Apartheid South Africa lost this argument when it was expelled in 1963.

In addition, legal expert, Professor Andreas Zimmermann of the Potsdam Centre for Human Rights, in a recently released paper titled  “Legal status of Israeli football clubs located in the occupied Palestinian territory and ensuing legal consequences for FIFA” explains that

“…any decision by FIFA… to disregard the illegality of the Israeli settlements under international law, would itself be quintessentially political and would contribute to the continued violation of international law. By not taking action, it would be FIFA that would take a political decision.”

We join the Palestinian Football Association and activists across the world who are calling on FIFA to uphold its duties of neutrality and non-discrimination and to enforce its own Statutes – specifically numbers 3, 4 and 72 – in a consistent manner. If not, its fragile reputation will suffer further damage and it will likely expose itself to litigation at, for example, among other bodies, the Council for Arbitration in Sport and could be added to UN lists of companies involved, complicit and profiting from Israeli settlements.

There is no good reason to give the Israel Football Association another six months in which to adhere to FIFA Statutes. The issue of Israel’s settlement-based clubs has been on the table for two years, and as the current football season concludes the time to exclude those clubs is now.

Click here for an article published yesterday by celebrated South African sports journalist Junia Stainbank.

ISSUED BY KWARA KEKANA ON BEHALF OF BDS SA
BOYCOTT, DIVESTMENT AND SANCTIONS AGAINST ISRAEL IN SOUTH AFRICA (BDS SOUTH AFRICA)

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