By Romana Rubeo
The President of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), Gianni Infantino, raised the idea that Israel might co-host the World Cup in 2030, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office announced in a statement Tuesday.
During a meeting held between Bennett and Infantino, the latter floated the prospect “that Israel would host the World Cup in 2030, together with other countries in the region, led by the United Arab Emirates,” the statement read.
Infantino made these remarks while referring to the so-called Abraham Accords, the US-brokered normalization agreements signed last year between Israel and UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco.
FIFA chief says Abraham Accords could lead to Israel co-hosting soccer World Cup https://t.co/tz7zwyxJBG
— The Times of Israel (@TimesofIsrael) October 12, 2021
The agreements are considered a severe blow to Palestinian efforts aimed at isolating Israel until it ends its military occupation of Palestine.
The FIFA President was also supposed to meet the Palestine Football Association President Jibril Rajoub, the official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported. However, the meeting was canceled over Infantino’s attendance at an event at the so-called “Museum of Tolerance”, along with former US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman.
NEWS | FIFA president Gianni Infantino has opened the door to a World Cup being held in Israel, Palestine and their Middle Eastern neighbours in the future.
— The Athletic UK (@TheAthleticUK) October 13, 2021
The museum was built over the historic Islamic cemetery of Ma’manullah, in the occupied Palestinian city of Jerusalem. In a press statement released on Tuesday, the PFA said that Infantino’s participation in the event was “a total affront to the values of religious tolerance and peaceful coexistence, both endorsed by the FIFA Statutes,” WAFA reported.
In recent years, Palestinians have repeatedly asked FIFA to take a stance against Israeli violations.
In 2015, the PFA presented a motion to suspend the Israeli Football Association (IFA) from international football competitions. The appeal, which was later dropped under immense international pressure, denounced IFA’s collaboration “with Israel’s murderous regime while Palestinian footballers have been shot, beaten, bombed, and incarcerated along with their fellow citizens.”
— The Palestine Chronicle (@PalestineChron) October 12, 2021
The following year, in 2016, the PFA urged to give a “red card” to Israeli clubs from illegal Jewish settlements, by barring them from the IFA. In October 2017, however, Stephanie Adam, of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), announced that “the FIFA Council … (had) adopted a position allowing football clubs in illegal Israeli settlements to continue to be a welcome part of the world football organization”.
Although Article 3 of the FIFA Statutes states that “FIFA is committed to respecting all internationally recognised human rights and shall strive to promote the protection of these rights,” the Association has so far ignored “Israel’s violent attacks on Palestinian athletes and sports facilities and its prevalent anti-Arab racism and Islamophobia,” according to PACBI.
(The Palestine Chronicle)