There is an online petition asking FIFA to suspend Israel's FIFA membership for obstructing Palestinian national representation in football.
We have reproduced the letter below, it in itself is very instructive as to what Palestinian footballers have to contend with due to Israeli occupation.
Attn: Joseph S. Blatter, President, FIFA
CC: Jerome Champagne, Deputy Secretary General, FIFA
Hitzigweg 11, P.O. Box 85,
8030 Zurich, Switzerland
Dear Mr. Blatter,
I am writing to urge the suspension of Israel’s FIFA membership until it stops interfering in and obstructing Palestinian national representation in football and other international arenas.
Israel has shown it is willing and able to obstruct Palestinian representation and participation in inter-national sports through a number of acculumated efforts. Most recently on March 30, 2006 Israel bombed the Palestinian Football Stadium in Gaza, leaving a massive crater in its centre. In 2004, Israel set out to prevent the Palestinian football team from representing the Palestinian people on an international level during the World Cup qualifiers by disallowing several members of the team from leaving the Gaza Strip for their second match after winning the first one against Chinese Taipei (8-0). This caused Palestine to lose their second match and their chance as World Cup contenders.
Some efforts against the Palestinian team are less noticed but equally damaging. The Palestinian team is forced to play all their “home” games in a foreign country, away from the support and encouragement of their fans. Unable to hold regular practice under the exigencies of Occupation, the Palestinian team has to train in Egypt, forcing players to stay away from their homes and families for extended periods. Finally, Israel’s raids, closures, curfews and other Occupation methods prevent the creation of a national Palestinian football league that would serve as a pool from which new players could be recruited.
Yet, Palestine remains the FIFA’s best improving team despite the odds, jumping more that 70 spots in the rankings since it was enlisted in 1998 (though the Palestine Football Association was formed in 1928).
Israel’s actions aim to deny Palestinian national identity and perpetrate the negative stereotypes that Israel tries to maintain about Palestinians. This campaign is directed at the population as a whole but exemplified by the underhanded practices against Palestine’s football team.
It is customary for FIFA to take disciplinary actions against teams because of unacceptable behaviour or action by their fans. This is a far more extreme situation where the government of one team systematically sabotages another. Suspending Israel’s membership from FIFA is the only and appropriate sanction for its discriminatory practices. It would also be congruous with the notion that international sports stand above political conflicts to represent equality among nations, fair play and good sportsmanship among peoples of the world.
I urge you to suspend Israel’s membership in FIFA until such a day that it ends its campaign against Palestinian national representation and participation in international sports and beyond.