The Palestine Football Association (PFA) was forced to present an amendment to its initial proposal of suspending Israel from FIFA because it did not have sufficient backing from the other member boards present at the Congress last month.
The PFA wanted Israel to be kicked out of FIFA and had been pushing for a Congress vote in their favour.
However, a last-minute amendment was presented by the PFA head Jibril Rajoub, a surprise motion given his insistence on Israel’s ouster in the days leading to the FIFA meeting.
“Most of the delegates [at the Congress] were not in agreement to support a motion stating suspension,” PFA Head of the Legal Unit Gonzalo Boye, who was part of its delegation, told Al Jazeera.
“We started talking to the heads of the delegations and we held meetings day and night. But we realised we didn’t have sufficient votes to submit our initial proposal.
“The members were, however, in agreement to support an amendment which we decided to present.”
PFA’s amendment resulted in FIFA President Sepp Blatter calling for a committee to be formed which will monitor Israel’s compliance with the issue, the amendment being approved by 90 percent of the votes at the Congress.
The PFA has accused Israel of hampering its activities and restricting the movement of players between the Gaza Strip and West Bank. But the main concern, according to Boye, was the five clubs based in occupied Palestinian territory that were participating in the Israeli league.
“The five teams are still playing in Palestine territory and that hasn’t changed [since the Congress]. That’s a major problem for the Israeli football association, not for us.”
The committee, that needs to be formed within 60 days of the Congress, will comprise FIFA officials as well as members from the Palestine and Israel football bodies.
The PFA remains confident that a favourable outcome was on the cards for them once the committee is formed and starts looking into the problems.
Israel either has to accomplish their commitment to FIFA or be suspended
“Israel has committed itself to solving the problem. We don’t know what it will do but we know what FIFA must do. Without a doubt, it will act in accordance with the decision of the Congress.
“Israel either has to accomplish their commitment to FIFA or be suspended.”
The decision by the PFA at the Congress prompted Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to issue a statement celebrating the amendment.
“Our international effort has proven itself and led to the failure of the Palestinian Authority attempt to oust us from FIFA,” he said.
However, Boye confirmed that the PFA remained unaffected and not bothered by Netanyahu’s comments since he was ‘just a politician’.
“Netanyahu is just a politician. We are the people from the sport and the legal field. I don’t think we should take him seriously.
“But if he’s admitting that his government has interfered in the football association’s activities, that will mean suspension for the Israeli football association. So if he was talking seriously, then Ofer Eini, the Israel football chief, must be concerned.”
FIFA is currently embroiled in the biggest scandal to have affected the governing body.
Nine high-ranking FIFA officials were arrested two days before it voted for a new president.
Blatter ended up winning a fifth term as FIFA president but confirmed he would resign as soon as fresh elections were scheduled. The bidding process for Russia 2018 and Qatar 2022 is also reportedly being investigated by the FBI.
But Boye confirmed that the turbulence at FIFA was unlikely to affect Palestine’s bid to resolve the pending issues.
“These are two separate issues. Our issue has already been approved by the Congress and we’re not concerned.”