It’s past time for FIFA to suspend Israel!
Palestinians call to pressure the world football governing body FIFA until it suspends Israel’s membership, in accordance with its principles and commitments. FIFA’s inaction is a green light for Israel to continue its genocide against Palestinians.
The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), the largest Palestinian coalition leading the global BDS movement, calls for pressuring the International Association Football Federation (FIFA) until it respects its obligations regarding the rights of the Palestinian people. In this context, the BNC recalls the call of the Palestinian sports community and human rights organizations representing millions, which FIFA has ignored for years, to suspend the membership of the Israeli Football Association (IFA) over its inclusion of sports teams based or playing matches in illegal Israeli settlements on stolen Palestinian land. The IFA allows these illegal settlement teams to play in its leagues and defends them from accountability, in flagrant violation of international law and the FIFA statutes.
At a time when Israel is waging a genocidal war against 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza, there are no excuses for international forums, sporting and non-sporting, not to expel Israel. The failure of these forums to hold Israel accountable for its crimes reveals more than before the extent of the dominance of the Western colonial powers, which support Israel and its genocidal apartheid regime, over these “international” forums.
The BNC calls on the national football associations of the Global South, the Arab Football Associations and the Union of Arab Football Associations to translate the resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Arab League into pressure on FIFA until it acts immediately to suspend Israel’s membership, in accordance with its principles and commitments.
For more than 50 days, 2.3 million Palestinians have been subjected to a genocidal war waged by Israel and supported, financed and armed by Western colonial powers, led by the United States. Despite the clear demands of the Palestinian Football Association, centered on the role of FIFA and international sports organizations in condemning Israel’s aggression against Palestinians in Gaza and the pressure towards a ceasefire, breaking the siege and the entry of emergency aid into Gaza, the international sports community has thus far been unable to, at the bare minimum, take any moral position against the genocide.
According to the FIFA Statutes, the Federation is committed to “respecting all internationally recognised human rights and shall strive to promote the protection of these rights” [Article 3]. FIFA also emphasizes that “discrimination of any kind against a country, private person or group of people … is strictly prohibited and punishable by suspension or expulsion” [Article 4]. The FIFA Human Rights Policy also states that the Federation “will strive to go beyond its responsibility to respect human rights, as enshrined in the UNGPs, by taking measures to promote the protection of human rights and positively contribute to their enjoyment” [Article 4], and that the it “will constructively engage with the relevant authorities and other stakeholders and make every effort to uphold its international human rights responsibilities” [Article 7].
Indeed, less than a week after the start of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, FIFA was quick to take powerful measures to ensure that its commitments and obligations were not compromised by allowing the Russian Football Association to continue to play in its tournaments. In this case, FIFA did not even wait for the United Nations resolutions that it had relied on in previous incidents when it suspended the membership of national football federations and prohibited them from playing in its tournaments for political reasons, such as the South African Football Association during the apartheid rule. The decisions of FIFA, the International Olympic Committee, and other international sporting bodies to suspend South Africa’s membership at that time was one of the most important pressure tools that contributed to dismantling South Africa’s apartheid system. Where are these sporting bodies today and why are they failing in their role to protect Palestinians from Israel’s genocidal war and its apartheid regime?
Over the years, it has been clear that FIFA’s disregard for the Palestinian demands and its deliberate abandonment of its obligations and responsibilities towards human rights when it comes to the rights of the Palestinian people, is a reflection of the deeply seated racism and hypocrisy of Western powers that control FIFA and are complicit in Israel’s regime of settler colonialism and apartheid. Today, while our people are being subjected to this televised crime of genocide, FIFA’s inaction is a green light for Israel to continue its genocide against Palestinians.
Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC)