News / Middle East

FIFA President Urges Israel to Ease Travel Rules for Palestine Footballers

FIFA President Sepp Blatter is seen in a big screen as he delivers a speech during the opening ceremony of the 65th FIFA Congress in Sao Paulo, June 11, 2014.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter is seen in a big screen as he delivers a speech during the opening ceremony of the 65th FIFA Congress in Sao Paulo, June 11, 2014.
Reuters
FIFA president Sepp Blatter and delegates at the FIFA Congress called on the Israeli government on Wednesday to fully commit to FIFA's plans to ease restrictions on movement for Palestinian soccer players.

“I call on the Israeli government to facilitate this movement and I go so far as to say its co-operation is crucial,” Blatter told delegates who roundly applauded him.

He said relations between the Israeli and Palestine football associations [FA] had generally improved since a Task Force was established at last year's Congress in Mauritius, and he asserted the Israeli government needed to back FIFA's plans.

After Blatter spoke, Jibril Rajoub, the president of the Palestine FA said they would not be calling for any sanctions against Israel as he had implied a month ago, but that the suffering of Palestine football had to end.

“I call on those who are causing the suffering to stop and those that are suffering not to lose hope as they are part of the FIFA family,” Rajoub told delegates from all 209 of FIFA's members including Israel.

Sportsmanship appeals

After Rajoub's speech, Blatter congratulated the Israeli delegation for not responding negatively to Rajoub's pleas saying: “Israeli football, you are not abandoned and I congratulate today for keeping silent in the spirit of sportsmanship fair play.”

Although Blatter said the situation had improved generally, FIFA, the PFA and the IFA as well as their respective confederations from Asia [AFC] and Europe [UEFA] were not close to a Memorandum of Understanding which he had hoped they would have been.

“The problems between Israel and Palestine have been going on for more than 50 years and it would not be possible for us to solve them in one year since the Task Force was established,” he said. “But we have made positive first steps.”

Blatter said a new committee would be formed to help monitor the progress of the relationship between the Israeli and Palestine FAs with consultations between the two continuing.

Passage denied

Israel appeared to inflame the situation earlier this week when it denied Palestine FA deputy general-secretary, Mohammad Ammassi, permission to travel from Gaza to the West Bank, from where he would have crossed to Jordan and on to Brazil for the Congress.

The PFA accused Israel of arbitrarily denying passage to Ammassi.

An Israeli official said Ammassi was banned from leaving the Gaza Strip because he had failed to follow procedure and submit his request at least 10 days prior to travel.

Israel cites security concerns for such restrictions, but has drawn international calls for greater freedom of movement for Palestinians through Israeli military checkpoints.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More