The SNP Member of the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee called on FIFA to respect its own rules, by excluding 5 Israeli football clubs based in settlements, as they are illegal under international law.
FIFA will convene on October 13 and is expected to address recent accusations that it does not apply its rules fairly. While Russia was compelled to ban Crimean football teams from its league as it illegally occupies Crimea, Israel has five official teams from settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. This Friday, the first game of the season in a settlement will be played.
In an unprecedented move, Alyn Smith MEP initiated a successful cross-party appeal to FIFA, signed by 66 Members of the European Parliament, from Scotland’s SNP to Spanish conservatives, German Social Democrats, French greens and Dutch liberals, to put football ahead of politics and respect the rules.
"I am not asking FIFA to suspend Israel, we just want it to apply the rules. Both Israelis and Palestinians have the right to play football. However, allowing Israel to use football as an instrument of territorial expansion in the West Bank politicises football – and this is not acceptable. The five settlement football teams should relocate within Israel’s internationally-recognised borders, in line with the EU and UN positions.
"I see a clear case for action by FIFA and welcome its new emphasis on the respect of human rights. My call is a joint one supported by dozens of leading politicians across Europe, but also committed supporters of peace in Israel.
"I am looking forward to FIFA’s answer. The settlement clubs should be excluded from Israel’s football league just like Crimea’s football teams cannot play in Russia’s league. All we ask is that FIFA sticks to the rule and keeps out of politics instead of allowing illegal Israeli settlements to prosper.”
Alyn's joint letter to FIFA, co-signed by 66 Members of the European Parliament from all political groups except the far right:
Here is a map of Israeli football clubs based in illegal settlements in the Palestinian territories:
The latest resolution on the Middle East Peace Process, adopted by Alyn’s group in the European parliament, is here: