[QODLink]
Football

Blatter to set up Palestine taskforce

FIFA President steps up his mission to help Palestinian athletes as dispute continues over border crossings.

Last Modified: 09 Jul 2013 15:06
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Blatter visits West Bank after FIFA Congress was called to improve state of the game in Palestine [EPA]

FIFA president Sepp Blatter will establish a task force to address Palestinian concerns over travel restrictions for soccer players and officials through border crossings controlled by Israel, he said on Tuesday.

After meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the head of world soccer's governing body said he, Israeli and Palestinian soccer chiefs and the heads of the European and Asian soccer confederations would discuss the issue in September.

Palestinians are angry that Israel's security forces, who control movement between the Gaza Strip and the Israeli-occupied West Bank, frequently prevent athletes travelling freely between the two separated territories.

"We shall have a task force...and will have a meeting in Zurich before the next FIFA Executive Committee scheduled for October," Blatter told a news conference. 

Blatter visited Israel following meetings this week in the occupied West Bank with Palestinian officials.

Palestine FA head Jibril Rajoub had threatened that if the matter was not resolved satisfactorily, he would call on delegates at the next FIFA Congress to expel Israel. 

Israel cites security concerns but says it has eased travel for athletes between Palestinian territories. The Palestinians want the West Bank and the Gaza Strip for a future state with Arab East Jerusalem as its capital.

No problem?

At Tuesday's news conference, Israeli FA chairman Avi Luzon said that this year authorities had granted all Palestinian travel requests.

"We have received (official) data...that no request the Palestinians have made in 2013 and until now has been rejected, so I don't understand what the problem is," Luzon said.

The West Bank, which is controlled by Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of the secular Fatah faction, has self-rule in some areas but Israel has overall military control of the territory.

The Gaza Strip, from which militants have fired thousands of rockets and mortar bombs into the Jewish state in recent years, is ruled by the Islamist Hamas faction which calls for Israel's destruction.

In highlighting Israel's security concerns, Netanyahu showed Blatter aerial photographs of a soccer stadium in Gaza which militants had used to fire rockets into Israel. 

"They're firing at our cities from football stadiums...in a civilian area. This is a double war crime: you're firing on civilians and you're hiding behind civilians... We ask FIFA to allow Israel to play fair and not to let the organisation and soccer to be exploited to spread lies," Netanyahu said.

374

Source:
Reuters
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
More than one-quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Muslim charities claim discrimination after major UK banks began closing their accounts.
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Featured
In Vietnam, 40 percent of all pregnancies are terminated each year, a rate that health officials are hoping to reduce.
Ivory Coast tackles internet fraud scourge, but analysts say criminals continue to outsmart authorities.
In US study, MIT scientists changed the emotions linked to specific memories in mice.
The seizure of the Tabqa airbase highlights the Islamic State's consolidation of power in eastern Syria, analysts say.
Traditional spring festival blossoms outside India through fun runs, raves and TV commercials.
join our mailing list