Hypocrisy Alert: FIFA Sanctions Indonesia for Opposing Apartheid Israel’s Crimes

March 31, 2023

FIFA’s decision to remove Indonesia as host of the upcoming FIFA Under-20 Men’s World Cup is an act of jaw-dropping hypocrisy. We salute the people of Indonesia who have stood for Palestinian rights and stand with them in rage against FIFA’s colonial arrogance.

The Palestinian BDS National Committee, the largest Palestinian civil society coalition, condemns FIFA’s decision to remove Indonesia as host of the upcoming FIFA Under-20 Men’s World Cup, an act of jaw-dropping hypocrisy and colonial arrogance. 

We call on FIFA member associations, including Arab League and Organization of Islamic Cooperation member states, to withdraw their teams from the unjustly relocated U-20 tournament and refuse to host it in protest of FIFA's colonial hypocrisy and Islamophobia.

After years of shielding Israel from accountability for its crimes against Palestinians and bullying states into accepting its inclusion in tournaments, FIFA has stepped in to strip Indonesia of the tournament, punishing the Indonesian people for the unassailable position of opposing the inclusion of a regime committing serious crimes, something FIFA itself has done in other instances.

FIFA immediately sanctioned Russia just days into its illegal aggression against Ukraine and has maintained those sanctions.

Now, with off-the-charts hypocrisy, FIFA is sanctioning Indonesia for popular protests opposing Israel’s decades-old war crimes and crimes against humanity oppressing millions of Palestinians, including footballers.

Israel regularly attacks Palestinian players, killing, mutilating, torturing and imprisoning them. It denies them their right to movement, systematically destroys training facilities - including the bombing of football stadiums - and even prevents football equipment from being imported. The Israel Football Association not only includes in its official leagues several teams based in illegal Israeli settlements on stolen Palestinian land, it actively advocates for maintaining them. These settlements constitute a war crime under international law.

These racist policies are a part of Israel’s regime of settler-colonialism and apartheid. From international human rights organizations, like Amnesty International, to former Presidents, to states, there is growing international consensus on what Palestinians have documented for decades: that Israel is an apartheid state and must be met with lawful sanctions for this crime against humanity.

FIFA, under Western hegemony, couldn’t be further from the right side of history on this, sanctioning those who oppose the crimes rather than those who commit them!

As Palestinians, we have come to expect these disgraceful double standards from corrupt FIFA, after years of it shielding apartheid Israel from accountability. We are heartened by the growing number of athletes and teams refusing to sportswash Israeli apartheid, often at great sacrifice.

We welcome the position of the Governors of Bali, Wayan Koster and Central Java, Ganjar Pranowo,who had opposed the inclusion of apartheid Israel in the U-20 tournament. And we salute the people of Indonesia who have stood for Palestinian rights and called for the exclusion of apartheid Israel from the tournament. We stand with them in rage against FIFA’s colonial arrogance and hypocrisy.

We reiterate our demand to suspend apartheid Israel from FIFA and all other international forums until it ends its grave violations of international law and crimes against Palestinians, as FIFA has done with Russia in the case of its aggression against Ukraine.

Exclusion of apartheid South Africa from global sporting events was crucial in strengthening the struggle against apartheid. Indonesian supporters have taken a leaf out of this book to support the Palestinian anti-apartheid struggle. Palestinians deserve the same solidarity, moral courage and respect for international law and human rights.

March 31, 2023


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