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RED Card Israeli Racism (RCIR) commended the Palestinian Football Association (PFA) today for its laudable effort to boost Fifa’s commitment to human rights at football’s world governing body Congress.
The PFA were calling for Fifa’s members to pass a proposal to change Articles 3 and 4, which would see “sanctioning, by suspension or expulsion, any member association whose actions do not reflect Fifa’s commitment to international human rights.”
More than 120 unarmed Palestinian protesters have been brutally murdered, with a further 13,000 injured, by Israeli snipers during the recent Great Return March demonstrations being staged in Gaza.
Argentina were meant to play Israel in a friendly last week in a stadium built on the ethnically cleansed Palestinian village of al-Maliha.
Fortunately, Argentina succumbed to months of pressure from human rights campaigners around the world and cancelled at the last minute, prompting messages of thanks to Lionel Messi and his teammates from the Palestinian community.
“In the end, they’ve done right thing and this is behind us,” striker Gonzalo Higuain told ESPN at the time. “Health and common sense come first. We felt that it wasn’t right to go.”
RCIR “condemns Fifa’s venal leadership for opposing this eminently reasonable measure” and in a statement released to the Star said: “The PFA proposed amending Fifa’s statutes so as to make football associations subject to serious sanction in the event that they fail to respect internationally recognised human rights.
“In the words of PFA president Jibril Rajoub, the absence of enforceability ‘threatens to devoid our commitment to human rights… and turn it into a nice slogan we can hang on the walls of our headquarters or plaster in the advertising space in this and that stadium.’
“The PFA amendment would have brought Fifa’s statutory commitment to human rights into line with its similar commitment to tackling discrimination on unjust grounds.
“RCIR condemns Fifa’s venal leadership for opposing this eminently reasonable measure. The reasons advanced by the Fifa Council — that the amendment was unnecessary and would have adverse legal implications — were misleading and without substance.
“Unfortunately, Fifa Congress operates largely as a rubber stamp for the organisation’s leadership. It was therefore inevitable that most of the assembled delegates would treat the Council’s recommendation as an instruction to vote the PFA’s proposal down.
“In forcing the failure of the proposal Fifa has displayed the same cynical disregard for matters of principle that led the renowned human rights experts Navi Pillay and Ron Popper to resign from the organisation last year.
“That cynicism was amply demonstrated when the council blocked action against the Israel Football Association for the latter’s sponsoring of football in illegal settlements.
“Today’s shabby proceedings indicate that Fifa’s human rights policy is indeed ‘a nice slogan’ that will not be allowed to interfere with its abundant cronyism and deference to powerful political actors on the world stage.”
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