Lauder appeals to FIFA to reject Palestinian demand to suspend Israel

May 28, 2015 by J-Wire News Service
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The president of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) today appealed to the 209 member associations of FIFA to reject a Palestinian demand to suspend the membership of the Israeli Football Association (IFA) in world soccer’s governing body.

Ronald S. Lauder urged delegates to the FIFA Congress in Zurich, Switzerland, which is expected to vote on the Palestinian Football Association’s motion this Friday, to reject “a blatant and divisive attempt to misuse FIFA for political ends.”

Ronald S. Lauder

Ronald S. Lauder

Lauder, who recently discussed the matter with FIFA President Sepp Blatter in a telephone conversation, highlighted the fact that Israel is the only FIFA member in the Middle Eastern region where a significant number of Christian, Jewish and Muslim players play together on the club level and in the national team.

He declared: “The IFA was recognized as a FIFA member in 1929, well before the State of Israel was established, and it has always been inclusive. Soccer is an important sport in Israel, which brings together people from all ethnic and religious backgrounds and helps to build bridges. Israel has acted proactively to enable Palestinians to participate in sporting activity.

“The Palestinian motion to kick Israel out of FIFA is based on grievances that question the actions of the Israeli government, and not those of the IFA. It is a move that singles out Israel and aims to further political aims through the world football’s governing body. If this motion is allowed to pass, other politically motivated groups may feel encouraged to take similar action concerning other issues, further bringing politics into sport. This motion does nothing to advance dialogue in the region, it actually works against peace,” said Lauder.

The WJC president said the issues raised by the PFA should be resolved through discussions between the Palestinian Authority and the State of Israel, not within the forum of FIFA.

Lauder added: “Boycotting a sporting country, or excluding it on political grounds from international sporting events, is not an appropriate way to foster friendship between nations, which is one of the main aims of international sporting competitions. We very much hope that the FIFA Congress will not give its backing to this motion, which unfairly singles out Israel.”

In recent weeks, a number of WJC-affiliated Jewish community organisations have contacted and met with the heads of their respective national soccer associations on this issue to defend Israel’s membership in FIFA.

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