International lawyers call on FIFA to investigate egregious violations by Palestinian Football Association

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The Lawfare Project has recruited dozens of international attorneys representing major firms and organizations to sign a letter to Tokyo Sexwale, Chairman of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) Monitoring Committee for Israel and Palestine, informing him of flagrant and continuous violations of the FIFA statutes and codes by the Palestinian Football Association (PFA). The letter follows the complaint submitted by the PFA demanding that Israeli football clubs in disputed territories be kicked out of the institution. We are grateful to Jonathan Turner of UKLFI for helping us draft the letter.

The best defense is always a good offense. We therefore strongly urge the Israeli Football Association (IFA) to file claims with FIFA regarding the PFA’s behavior, which is so reprehensible that it warrants a suspension or expulsion of the PFA from the institution. FIFA must protect itself from politicization, and therefore it cannot address claims made against the Israeli team without simultaneously addressing claims against the Palestinians. The PFA, whose behavior is totally antithetical to the spirit and purpose of international sport, must be made aware that their frivolous complaints against the IFA render them equally vulnerable to investigation.

Disgraceful PFA violations of the FIFA statutes and ethical codes include:

  • The PFA punishing Palestinians who participate in football games with Israelis, in contravention of Article 5(1) of the FIFA Statute, which provides that “FIFA shall promote friendly relations between and among member associations and in society for humanitarian objectives.” This behavior also violates the prohibition of discrimination of any kind in Article 4 of the FIFA Statute and Article 23 of the FIFA Code of Ethics.
  • Officials of the PFA regularly denigrating Israel and Israelis, in breach of Article 23 of the FIFA Code of Ethics, which prohibits persons bound by the Code (including officials) from offending the dignity of a country or group of people through derogatory words or actions.
  • The promotion and glorification of terrorism inherent in Palestinian football clubs’ celebrations of terrorists who have killed Israelis; by naming their teams after dead Palestinian terrorists; and by praising acts of terrorism against Israelis. This behavior violates the physical and mental integrity of Palestinians in contravention of Article 24 of the FIFA Code of Ethics, by encouraging impressionable children to end their lives in suicide-homicide attacks and to emulate those terrorists being praised by their heroes, Palestinian athletes and football clubs.
  • The use of the platform given to the PFA and its leadership to promote a political agenda and politicize FIFA and international sport, generally. This conduct breaches Article 14 of the FIFA Code of Ethics, which requires political neutrality.

Read the full letter here.

If FIFA officials plan to take action against the Israeli clubs in disputed territories, they must also be prepared to acknowledge and punish the Palestinian Football Association for these brazen violations of FIFA codes. FIFA must protect itself and all institutions of international sport from being politicized and dishonored in Palestinian attempts to ostracize the Jewish state.