FIFA President Sepp Blatter Sees Israeli-Palestinian Football Dispute Ending
FIFA "hopes to find a solution by the end of the year to Palestinian complaints about Israeli restrictions on the movement of soccer players and officials," according to Brian Homewood of REUTERS. FIFA President Sepp Blatter spoke after what he described as a "lively" and "historic" first meeting of the task force set up to deal with the dispute, attended by Israeli FA Chair Avi Luzon and Palestinian Football Federation President Jibril Rajoub. Blatter: "At the start, I have to say it was very lively, I will not say any more, but at the end it was trust, and confidence, and football." He added, "We can say today was historic...it was the first time the two presidents spoke with each other, otherwise, even when they were at the FIFA Congress, they just looked at each other and moved away." At the FIFA Congress in June, Rajoub "called for sanctions against the Israeli FA if the situation did not improve, and compared Israel's behaviour to bullying." Luzon, meanwhile, said that "no Palestinian travel requests had been rejected this year and that he did not understand what the problem was." Blatter: "The basic problem is the security problem of Israel and the fact that Palestine is recognized as a full member of FIFA but is not recognized as a full member of the United Nations" (REUTERS, 9/3). The task force analyzed different bilateral matters and made several proposals. Among them are applications for entry permits, as well as for the import of sports equipment, to be sent to the Israeli authorities within a given deadline, with a copy of these applications to be sent to the Israel FA. Additionally, a liaison officer to be appointed in each association to handle these matters, with FIFA monitoring the process (FIFA).