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Red Card Israeli Racism demanded Fifa take action against Israeli authorities today after Palestinian footballers were forced off the pitch on Friday when the Israeli Occupation Forces fired three tear gas projectiles into the Al Khader Stadium in Bethlehem.
Five players were taken to hospital for treatment and the official game between Al Ebeidiyah and Al Doha was cancelled.
No reason was given for this unprovoked attack and it isn’t the first time tear gas has been used at a football stadium.
On September 26 2016, tear gas was fired into the hall of the Hebron Youth Football Club and several people were taken to hospital. On February 1 2014 tear gas was fired outside the national stadium in Al Ram causing a league game to be cancelled because players, spectators and officials could not breathe.
RCIR told the Star: “Despite Fifa’s attempt to mitigate Israel’s restrictions on Palestinian football, especially during the now disregarded Sexwale Task Force, the situation is again deteriorating.
“Fifa must acknowledge this and take action against the Israeli authorities. If there is no positive response, the Fifa Council, as the responsible body, must take the necessary step to recommend to June’s Fifa Congress the suspension of the Israeli Football Association from Fifa.”
Despite Fifa’s meagre attempts to punish Israel, it now seems that Israel is stepping up harassment of Palestinian football not just on the field but also as part of the series of detentions, arrests and denial of travel to footballers, staff and officials and through proposals to Fifa’s Disciplinary and Ethics committees.
Just earlier this month PFA vice-president for international affairs, Ms Susan Shalabi, was detained at the checkpoint of the Allenby Bridge crossing from Jordan.
She was returning to Palestine from Australia after the first game in the Asian Cup tournament. Her phone was confiscated and no reason was given for Ms Shalabi’s arrest. Once bail had been paid she was released.
It is not known if there will be further consequences.
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