FIFA president 'on a mission of peace'

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Friday, May 22, 2015

FIFA (International Federation of Association Football) president Sepp Blatter is touring the Middle East, making efforts to stop the Palestinian motion for the suspension of Israel from FIFA. As part of his visit, Blatter met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday, and on Wednesday was due to meet the president of the Palestinian National Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, and the chairman of the Palestinian Football Association, Jibril Rajoub.

After his meeting with the Israeli prime minister, Mr. Blatter held a press conference, in which he said Prime Minister Netanyahu was agreeable to a "peace match", perhaps organized by FIFA, between the Israeli and Palestinian national teams. Blatter also said he hasn't the authority to prevent the Palestinian motion from moving forward and "it is a very unusual and very serious matter". Blatter called his efforts "a mission of peace".

Recently, the Palestinian Football Association proposed to suspend Israel from FIFA accusing Israel of severely restricting the importation of sports gear, the travel of players within the territories of the PNA — from Gaza to the West Bank and vice versa — as well as the visits of foreign teams in Palestine thus dealing damages to Palestinian football. The Palestinian motion reads: "Our aim is to stop the suffering of our footballers and ensure that Palestinian football is allowed to benefit from the rights and the obligations enshrined in the FIFA statutes". In response to these claims the CEO of the Israel Footballers Association, Rotem Kemer, said the accusations aren't about football and "we don't have any impact [...] when it comes to security issues around the borders of Israel".

Should the motion go through, Israel would be suspended of all FIFA projects and activities, including the Champions League and the European Championship in 2016. For the motion to go through on May 29 it must win the support of 75% of the 209 voters.