It’s never wise—and perhaps not possible—to underestimate FIFA’s ability to hit a new moral low. But if FIFA votes against Israel, it will be its most shameful decision yet, because it will prove Orwell right—that the Beautiful Game is nothing more than a front in a decades-long battle, and its fans are merely its conscripts.
26 May '15..
For the past few years, Palestinians have been trying to give a red card to Israel, removing it from the world’s most popular sport. A look inside their game plan—and how it decreases the chances for peace.
On May 29, a 79-year-old Swiss bureaucrat named Sepp Blatter will run for his fifth term as president of FIFA, the governing body of world soccer. Having led the organization that oversees the world’s most popular game since 1998—an organization that has long been accused of rampant corruption, retrograde sexism, and, in the case of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, enabling slavery—Blatter is a man who, like the sport he runs, brings out the passion in people. “He may well be the most successful non-homicidal dictator of the past century,” said Marina Hyde of The Guardian. “Sepp Blatter saying ‘I stand by my work’ is like a puppy standing by the work it did after being left alone in the house for the first time,” said John Oliver of HBO. But the people who actually participate in his elections have an entirely different, though no less passionate, view. To them, Blatter is akin to Jesus Christ, Nelson Mandela, and Winston Churchill—“Why is he different from these other men?” asked Osiris Guzman, the president of the Dominican Football Federation. Guzman once served a 30-day suspension from FIFA over allegations of vote-buying connected to an election that determined that the best possible location for a month-long soccer tournament was a desert nation where temperatures frequently hit 120 degrees and homosexuality is punishable by death—not to worry, though, said Blatter, because gay soccer fans should just “refrain from any sexual activities.”
But Blatter’s likely reelection is surprisingly not the most shameful issue on the agenda of the 65th FIFA Congress. That would be item 15.1: the proposal by the Palestinian Football Association (PFA) to suspend the Israel Football Association (IFA) from FIFA. The PFA is taking this action because, in the words of PFA president Jibril Rajoub, who is also a member of the Central Committee of the West Bank’s ruling Fatah party, “It is clear that the [IFA] is not willing to recognize the PFA as a federation with equal rights and obligations, just as they continue to violate their commitments made before FIFA. We are therefore determined to continue our path to suspend the [IFA] during the next FIFA Congress.”
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