Israeli Football Association Rejects FIFA Expulsion Talk, Claims Progress Is Being Made
Israeli football authorities "have broken their silence over the hugely sensitive dispute with Palestine, insisting efforts are being stepped up to improve conditions for Palestinian players and officials in and out of the West Bank and Gaza," according to Andrew Warshaw of INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL. Tensions between the two sides recently reached a peak when the Palestinian FA announced that "it would call for Israel's expulsion from FIFA" at this summer's FIFA Congress in Sao Paulo unless tangible measures are taken to ease travel restrictions in the occupied territories. Last week, "the Israeli FA attended the UEFA Congress in Kazakhstan." Israeli FA CEO Rotem Kemer said that "there was a danger of too many people playing politics." Kemer: "We don't think this is right. It has never been the policy of FIFA and UEFA to mix politics and sport. We are making our best efforts in order to help the Palestinian association. We are trying to make things easier for them." The Israeli security forces "have accused the Palestinians of using football to hide the movement of terrorists and equipment within the region." The Palestinians "have denied this and point to the inability to get footballers to training and matches which they say is a deliberate act of oppression" (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 3/31).