Palestine: FIFA Relents but Rules are Still Bent

June 4, 2011 by David Singer
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FIFA has been in the media spotlight this week as its practices and procedures have come under increasing scrutiny and its conduct has become of great concern to many of its member countries.

Symptomatic of its questionable practices was a complaint I made to FIFA last year concerning the information posted on its official web site concerning one of  FIFA’s members – “Palestine” – which then appeared as a country with

  • defined borders
  • a stated area comprising the West Bank , East Jerusalem and Gaza,
  • a population whose numbers excluded the 500000 Jews who lived there and
  • a currency that did not exist.

Following my complaint FIFA has since taken some welcome action to revamp its website.

FIFA has now amended its country information for every member state by deleting all information relating to:

  • Main cities
  • Population
  • Currency
  • Neighbouring countries

The general and geographic information for Palestine now reads as follows:

  • General Information

FIFA Trigramme: PLE

Country: Palestine

Country (official name): Palestine

Continent: Asia

Capital: None

  • Geographic Information

Surface area: 6,326 km²

Highest point: Tail Asur 1,016 m.

Neighbouring seas and oceans: Mediterranean Sea

The continued designation of Palestine as a country and the retention of the surface area of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza which defines its borders  – is misleading and deceptive.

There is no state of Palestine that exists in international law today. It is a fictitious entity which has been created by FIFA to get around its own rules restricting admission of members to the world body.

The Palestinian Football Federation was admitted as a member of FIFA in 1998 in contravention of FIFA’s own governing articles.

Article 10.1 of FIFA’s constitution provides:

“Any Association which is responsible for organising and supervising football in its country may become a Member of FIFA. In this context, the expression “country” shall refer to an independent state recognised by the international Community. Subject to par. 5 and par. 6 below, only one Association shall be recognised in each country.”

Paragraph 6 provides:

“An Association in a region which has not yet gained independence may, with the authorisation of the Association in the country on which it is dependent, also apply for admission to FIFA.”

Whether Israel agreed to the Palestinian Football Association being admitted as a FIFA member is unknown.  Certainly it would never have done so in the expectation that FIFA would recognize Palestine as an independent State.

There is threatened action by the Palestinian Authority to approach the United Nations in September to seek international recognition of a Palestinian State incorporating the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.

However this action is doomed to failure because the conditions essential for the declaration and creation of a State as laid down by the Montevideo Convention 1933 do not exist.

Article 1 sets out the four following criteria for statehood

(a) a permanent population;

(b) a defined territory;

(c) government; and

(d) capacity to enter into relations with the other states.


Furthermore, the first sentence of article 3 explicitly states that “The political existence of the state is independent of recognition by the other states.”

The West Bank and Gaza fall far short of meeting these requirements.

Countries joining the rush to the United Nations to play this fictitious game in September will do their credibility no good and will become active players in undermining international law.

FIFA has already allowed itself to be caught up in politics in its decision to admit Palestine as a FIFA member – taking the invention of political fiction to a new and dangerous level.

During a recent visit to the Palestinian Authority, FIFA President Sepp Blatter exclaimed:

“I feel at home in Palestine,”

Is Mr Blatter unaware that unsuccessful negotiations have been ongoing between Israel and the Palestinian Authority since 1993 to define where “ home “ is?  Does Mr Blatter feel at home in the terrorist fiefdom of Gaza as well as in that  territory comprising 17% of the West Bank presently ruled by the Palestinian Authority. Should Mr Blatter separate sport from politics and not engage in trying to create  facts on the ground where none exist?

Mr Blatter also issued this Presidential decree at the same time:

“We know that Palestine is an exceptional situation for FIFA. Therefore, we need to find exceptional solutions. We’ll do our best to help. Football has no borders,”

Sorry Mr Blatter – football has borders that end at the borders of the member states according to FIFA‘s own constitution – unless Associations dependent on another country receive authorization to join FIFA – not as independent countries but as Associations.

Bending the rules by creating exceptional solutions seems to contravene the very essence of stringently playing by and enforcing the rules of  Football which FIFA imposes on its members.

Corporate maladministration seems to be at the root of FIFA’s current problems. Its cavalier attitude to admitting Palestine as a FIFA member contrary to the clear wording of its Constitution indicates one example of such maladministration.

FIFA has clearly taken its eye off the ball in making such a decision and scored an own goal – earning scorn and derision as it lives in its own dream world of make believe and fantasy.

David Singer is a Sydney Lawyer and Foundation Member of the International Analysts Network




9 Responses to “Palestine: FIFA Relents but Rules are Still Bent”
  1. david singer says:

    To Steve

    Article 1 of the Montevideo Convention merely codified the existing customary international law when laying down the four criteria required for a state to be constituted.

    The law is sometimes an ass – but not when it comes to recognizing whether an entity is a state or not.

    Clearly if you want to call yourself a state you need to control land, have a permanent population, a ruling government and an ability to make and honour commitments. This is not rocket science.

    The UN, FIFA and UNESCO ignore this long and well established law at their peril.

    What will they say when Kurdistan and the myriad other liberation movements world wide apply to join these organizations and use “Palestine” as a precedent?

    Ignoring the law by purportedly recognizing something that does not exist is a recipe for total disaster.

    FIFA looks stupid as it ignores its own rules for membership – but expects those who play the code to observe the rules it lays down for the conduct of the game and to penalize those who breach those rules.

    FIFA may have changed some of its more stupid errors on the website – but cannot hope to restore any measure of credibility by maintaining the fiction it still does in calling “Palestine” a “country”

    The political fall out for the UN and UNESCO engaging in this stupidity will in my opinion be far more serious and will threaten world peace and stability.

  2. steve says:

    Also, I could be wrong, but it sounds like you say Article 3 of the Montevideo Convention is conclusive against Palestine being a country. If “the political existence of the state is independent of recognition by the other states,” then that would support Palestine being a state, because it would mean that they don’t need recognition in order to be a “real” state.

  3. steve says:

    The Montevideo Convention does not apply to Israel or Palestine. It only applies to the countries who signed it, mostly Latin American countries and all Western Hemisphere Countries. Being recognized by FIFA doesn’t make it a country, but it certainly is evidence that it could be depending on which international definition you choose to apply.

  4. david singer says:

    To Josh Lawton

    The name of the country is Israel. If you cannot conduct a civil discourse you cannot expect a response from me..

  5. Josh Lawton says:

    Very soon it will be, Israhell has enclosed itself by building a wall around it. Israhell aspirations were to have a state that extended all the way to arabia. now there content with part of Palestine and building a wall around it will not help, but has showed weakness on there part.

  6. david singer says:

    To Konrad

    Regrettably when Israel disengaged completely from Gaza in 2005 removing its army and all 8000 Jews who had lived there for up to 40 years, Gaza’s population – in an act of free choice – elected the terrorist organization of Hamas to rule their lives – an organization sworn to wipe Israel and its 6.25 million Jewish population off the map..

    The Gazan Arabs voted then knowing full well who they were voting for. It doesn’t look as if they will be given a second chance to correct their very bad choice. This is par for the course for terrorist regimes

    Gaza could have been a paradise and the first step on the road to a Palestinian State. Instead the population took great delight in trashing everything of value left behind by the departing Jews.

    Hamas blew it choosing to continue to fire thousands of mortars and missiles indiscriminately into Israeli population centers on an almost daily basis bringing Israeli responses as it sought to defend its population. Suffering was the shared result for both Israelis and Gazans

    Have you any sympathy for Israeli kids who were subjected to such bombings and the trauma they suffered?

    Rather than making insulting remarks directed at myself, you would be well advised to heed my message.

    Identify one child in Gaza who is starving. There appears to be massive amounts of cash available to smuggle in missiles, mortars and explosives but not enough to bring in enough food to feed the children you say are starving?. What about the hundreds of trucks that go into Gaza from Israel every day? What do you think they carry?

    Like FIFA you live in a dream world.

    Forget the false propaganda and sloganeering that features FIFA”s approach – and your approach – to resolving a conflict that has now raged unresolved for more than 130 years because of Arab intransigence as I pointed out in detail my earlier reply above to John.

    You may not like my expose of FIFA but I believe it is accurate in every detail. FIFA’s devious conduct prolongs rather than helps to end the conflict,

    If you think otherwise then please state your reasons.

  7. david singer says:

    To John

    At the moment it isn’t – and has not been despite FIFA misleadingly and deceptively proclaiming it to be a country on its web site and still continuing with that deception after it has been brought to FIFA’s attention..

    I can assure you that not only FIFA has been engaged in such reprehensible conduct. FIFA however carries tremendous clout and has the capacity to greatly influence public opinion. Its conduct has been appalling on this issue.

    What you think will happen in the future is unlikely to occur for the reasons I point out in detail in my article – unless you believe in consigning international law to the garbage bin..

    Palestine could have been a country in 1937, 1947, at any time between 1948-1967, 2001 and 2008. Its leaders failed to take up the challenge at each of these critical time lines. Believing they will do so in the future and live in peace alongside the Jewish State of Israel must be viewed with a great deal of scepticism.

  8. Konrad says:


    How do you sleep at night? When thousands of Gazan children are starving in the world’s largest open air prison? When thousands more are banned from seeing their families by the road blocks put in place by Apartheid Israel?

    I really do hope you don’t have any children, as the world should not have more people like you in it.

  9. John says:

    It will be an official country soon.

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