web analytics
December 5, 2016 / 5 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘football’

The Palestinians’ Unsporting and Illegal ‘Football War’ Against Israel

Wednesday, September 28th, 2016

{Originally posted to the Washington Post website}

Human Rights Watch published a long, graphics-rich report on Sunday denouncing Israeli semi-pro soccer (football) clubs in towns in the West Bank. A few weeks ago, a group of European Parliament members sent a letter along similar lines to FIFA, the international soccer governing body. The parliament members argue the clubs violate international law, and for good measure, the FIFA constitution, and call for the expulsion of the teams, or Israel itself, from world soccer.

These efforts are all part of a broad Palestinian push to pressure Israeli in international forums. The legal arguments raised in these documents are entirely contrived. They contradict longstanding FIFA practice and create a double standard for Israel. And that’s just not sporting.

The human rights claims in the Human Rights Watch (HRW) report are tendentious — they assert that the local soccer leagues (all quite small-time) are “making the settlements more sustainable, thus propping up” the system. Most of the communities in question are just a few kilometers from the 1949 Jordanian-Israeli armistice line and would remain in Israel in all the major two-state proposals; their residents typically commute to work in bigger nearby cities. It is laughable to think anyone would leave them if the football league moved a few kilometers down the road. In any case, contrary to the HRW’s claims, there is simply no support in international law for prohibiting business in occupied territories, as British and French courts have recently affirmed.

Indeed, Morocco maintains a team, part of its national football federation, in occupied Western Sahara. Yet the HRW completely fails to mention this fact in its report. The human rights abuses in Western Sahara — where the majority of the population are Moroccan settlers and the indigenous population has been heavily displaced — are too vast to recount. No one — including the HRW and the Parliament members — has suggested expelling Morocco on account of its team, based deep in land taken from the Sahrawi.

The football-as-human rights-violation arguments against Israel are tendentious and prove too much. So those campaigning against Israel rely principally on a lawyerly claim about FIFA’s rules: The clubs “clearly violate FIFA’s statutes, according to which clubs from one member association cannot play on the territory of another member association without its and FIFA’s consent,” the members claim.

The problem is nothing in the FIFA statutes that equates “territory” with sovereign territory. Indeed, that would be impossible, since many FIFA members are not sovereign states at all. Instead, territory, as is often the case in international texts, means jurisdiction.

This is because the FIFA is not a border demarcation body. That is why FIFA clearly separates any question of sovereign statehood and territory from FIFA membership by not requiring that member federations be recognized states (i.e. Hong Kong, American Samoa, Faroe Islands, Northern Ireland, etc.). The claim that the acceptance of the Palestinian soccer federation into FIFA constituted a recognition of Palestine as a state and a recognition of its maximal border claims is unsupportable. FIFA membership does not imply statehood, nor has FIFA ever taken a position on preexisting border disputes.

Indeed, FIFA practice makes clear that it never gets involved when teams of one federation play on territory that is the subject of sovereign claims by the state of another member. As often happens, Israel’s critics attempt to portray it as a unique situation. It is far from it.

For example, British Gibraltar’s soccer federation is a member of the international soccer system despite being entirely located on what Spain claims as its sovereign territory. Indeed, Spain protested Gibraltar’s membership vigorously on these grounds. Similarly, the Taiwanese (Taipei) federation is recognized — but that hardly means FIFA has decided to reject China’s claim to the island.

Member states have territorial disputes. FIFA’s recognition of teams has never been understood as taking any position on the status of the territory where the team plays. Indeed, if it does, it would be big trouble for FIFA, and big news. Does this mean FIFA rejects Spain’s claim to Gibraltar, or China’s to Taiwan, and accepts Morocco’s annexation of Western Sahara? No one has ever suggested that any of this is the case. Conversely, the South American regional football association has refused to admit the Falklands Island Football federation, which prevents it from joining FIFA. But this hardly means the Falklands is occupied territory. This probably explains why only 66 MEPs signed the letter when anti-Israel resolutions routinely command vast majorities of the 751-member body.

Moreover, the Palestinian Federation has been a FIFA member for 20 years. When the Palestinian Federation was recognized in 1998, the event barely made news, because everyone understood that it was neither a recognition of Palestinian statehood (this was well before even the nod from the U.N. General Assembly) or a denial of Israeli teams’ rights to play where they had been playing. Indeed, the Israelis did not even protest Palestinian membership, as no one had yet invented the spin that the membership had anything to do with settlement teams. The Palestinians also failed to complain until a couple of years ago, when they began to use FIFA as part of their overall effort to “internationalize” their dispute with Israel. (The head of the Palestinian football association, Jibril Rajoub, has been accused of mixing football with celebrations of terrorism.)

The longstanding acceptance of the Israeli teams is further evidence that no one really thinks FIFA rules mean what they are now said to mean.

Much reliance is placed on FIFA not recognizing the teams taken over and reorganized by Russia after its 2014 invasion of Crimea. Of course, in that situation, Russia invaded its neighbor and assimilated its teams. In other words, the teams in question were ones that Russia had actually taken over. Here, no Palestinian team has been taken over by Israel — indeed, every single one of them has been created during Israel’s supposed occupation. Nor has Israel invaded and overrun the Palestinian Authority, which was established in 1994 — in short, there has been no change in the status quo.

Moreover, FIFA’s 2014 action was not its last word. It has since allowed the creation of a separate Crimean federation separate from the Russian one — and the Ukrainian one. Does that mean that FIFA recognizes that the area is no longer part of Ukraine? Hardly. It means that it realizes that the football pitch is not the Peace Palace.

Eugene Kontorovich

Tennessee Team Donates Uniforms to Israel Football League

Friday, June 3rd, 2016

The University of Tennessee football team has donated more than 700 practice jerseys, as well as compression gear and other equipment, to the Israel Football League.

Sponsored by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and his family, the IFL was founded in the summer of 2005 by a group of Israelis who wanted to play tackle American football. The league’s website relates that the first season was played without pads or an official governing body, but as of 2007 the league began fully equipped play under the umbrella of American Football in Israel (AFI), and Israel Bowl I was held in 2008. The league currently plays eight-on-eight football, hoping to expand to eleven-on-eleven some day. Currently there are only 450 qualified players, divided among the 10 teams in the league. The playing fields are in Kraft Stadium in Jerusalem, as well as in Haifa, Mazkeret Batya, Be’er Sheva, Ramat Hasharon, Petach Tikvah, and Tel Aviv University.

Last year, according to local NBC affiliate WBIR, UT gave up its sponsorship contract with Adidas to Nike, and as a result a large load of completely unused gear became useless. IFL coaching coordinator Dan Phillips recognized an opportunity when he saw it: “I knew that they wouldn’t be able to use anything that had an Adidas logo, so I knew there was going to be a lot of this stuff lying around,” he told WBIR.

Phillips also told WBIR, “For [Israeli football players] to play, they have to pay roughly a thousand dollars to get equipment. The reason is that nobody in Israel sells or manufactures football equipment.”

Philips is also grateful to the First Baptist Church in Morristown, TN, who paid for the shipping. The uniforms have arrived, in a variety of colors, adorned with the Adidas logo and the UT emblem. Otherwise they’re completely white and blue.

We looked up the IFL on Wikipedia and the winners of the 2015-16 Israel Bowl IX are the Judean Rebels (second year in a row), who beat the Tel Aviv Pioneers (also second year in a row). The MVP (both years) was the Rebels’ Dani Eastman.

JNi.Media

Tel Aviv Preschoolers Ask President Rivlin, ‘Why Didn’t You Become a Footballer?’

Sunday, January 3rd, 2016

There are some things in this world that are hugely important when you are four years old, and no one can tell you different. Even the president of Israel.

President Reuven Rivlin encountered that situation when he visited the Hadas Kindergarten in central Tel Aviv on Sunday morning.

The visit was his first stop in Tel Aviv, preceding his trip to Ichilov Hospital to visit with those injured in Friday’s shooting attack at a café on Dizengoff Street, and their families.

The president sat with the preschoolers and read them the story of ‘Aaron and the Purple Crayon,’ by Crockett Johnson, “supervised” by their teacher, Keren, and educational staff.

But when the story ended, the children had their own questions for the president.

They wanted to know why Rivlin wanted to be President, and what did a President do? Why hadn’t he become a footballer?

Seeing as these were all very good questions, the President gave them very serious answers.

“I’m just not very good at it,” he said when explaining why he gave up football.

“I think it’s better that I am President because that way I have the opportunity to listen to all people in the country.

“I listen to all the citizens and the citizens with difficult jobs. I listen to mayors and ministers, principals and teachers, and I try to help with any problem and to resolve them.

“The President is primarily the mouth of all people, of all the public. When the President expresses his opinion he does so after hearing everyone’s voices. And you children – even if you don’t agree with what your friend says, first of all you need to listen and think – maybe what he is saying makes sense?

“It is important that we listen to everyone with dignity, and maybe we will learn something,” he told them.

Hana Levi Julian

AG Weinstein Overrides Judge’s Decision, Permits Soccer on Shabbat

Thursday, September 10th, 2015

(JNi.media) There will be soccer league games in Israel this Shabbat, despite a ruling by Labor Court Judge Ariela Glitzr Katz to the contrary. Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein announced that the policy of ignoring Shabbat labor laws regarding soccer—practiced for more than 50 years in Israel—will continue. In other words, should the teams violate Israel’s labor laws and play this Shabbat, government inspectors will continue to avoid serving them with summonses.

In an interview on Army Radio, Deputy Defense Minister Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan (Bayit Yehude), criticized Attorney General Weinstein’s ruling, that there is no reason not to hold a soccer game on Shabbat. “If Weinstein were to say the same thing about any other topiv, there would have been a great outcry in response.”

On Tuesday, Israel’s Football Association’s management confirmed that it would not play on the day of rest without the authorization of the Ministry of the Economy. Economy Minister Aryeh Deri (Shas) was not available to extend the league the needed permit absolving them of the requirement to observe Shabbat.

The hullabaloo began when Israel’s professional players’ union demanded to move all league games to weekdays, arguing they wished to spend the holy day of rest with their families, like the rest of the Jewish people. That reversed a practice that some say dates back to the first word war. Minister of Culture and Sport Miri Regev (Likud) said on Wednesday that “we need to reach a compromise between the association, the management, the Ministry of Culture and the teams. Fromt the start, I told the leaders of the Association that some in the Knesset wanted to pass such a law, but we couldn’t make it happen. Now they will have no choice but to be flexible.”

Weinstein’s decision only absolves the football teams from the threat of administrative criminal sanctions. Players, individually or in a class action suit, can still seek remedy from the teams or the players’ union in civil court. The defendants would in turn appeal to the Labor Court for an injunction against holding the games on Shabbat. It was precisely such a petition which has been was filed—and removed in the meantime—which began the entire controversy.

JNi.Media

Cardiff Kills Exhibition of Jews, Muslims, Christians Playing Together Because It Was Shot in Israel

Friday, September 4th, 2015

(JNi.media) The Cardiff Council Cancelled the Photo Exhibition “Jewish-Arab football: diversity and coexistence through lower-league football,” planned in celebration of a soccer match between Wales and Israel on Sunday, because the photos had been shot in Israel.

But a spokesperson for Cardiff Council stated that the exhibition had been closed less than 24 hours after it had opened — “following a complaint.”

“The Council is aware there are protests planned around the Wales Israel game at the weekend and this was taken into consideration,” the spokesperson said, adding that while “our libraries are buildings which promote free speech,” nevertheless “it was felt that running this exhibition could lead visitors to suppose that the Council was displaying bias.”

The project, created by photographers Gad Salner and Vadim Tarasov, focuses on lower-league football throughout Israel, emphasizing how Muslim, Christian and Jewish communities come together through the beautiful game.

The exhibition’s alleged “bias” was expressed in its intro: “From forgotten Arab villages in the north to dusty Jewish neighborhoods in the south, we visit places where the seemingly ever-present tension between cultures evaporates, and where diversity is embraced, encouraged and celebrated. The exhibition puts more emphasis on the human, urban and cultural landscapes of our divided and diverse society, and less on the pitch action itself.”

One of the subjects is the Betar Nordia Football Club in Jerusalem, a small, fan-owned club that promotes diversity and sportsmanship, while opposing violence and racism in football. The club’s Jewish participants play alongside their Arab Muslim and Christian colleagues.

The Israeli Embassy in London has condemned the Cardiff council decision as “outrageous,” and a spokesman for the Embassy said: “This is a boycott against peace and coexistence, in line with the destructive and belligerent aims of the movement to delegitimize Israel. Removing an exhibition showing how football promotes friendship between people of different backgrounds in Israel turns a celebration of coexistence into an ugly politics of division.”

Adam Johannes of Stop the War Coalition, one of the groups that organizes a demonstration against the Israeli national team’s participation in the soccer tournament, said, “We welcome Cardiff council’s decision to cancel an exhibition sponsored by the Israeli Embassy that whitewashes the reality of football in the Middle East. Israel wages war on Palestinian football. How can a country be allowed to compete in international matches when it prevents another Fifa member from playing football freely?

Johannes also claimed that the Israeli Football Association had reorganized youth leagues along race lines in the Samaria region, so that nearly all Arab children’s teams were now racially segregated and did not play with Jewish teams.

JNi.Media

No Goal – Rajoub Drops FIFA Sportsfare Attack on Israel

Friday, May 29th, 2015

By early afternoon, Israeli media sources were reporting that a compromise had been reached between Israel, FIFA and the Palestinian Authority, and the PA’s bid to expel Israel from the international football (soccer) league was over.

The attempt to use international sports (sportsfare) to attack Israel was initiated by Palestinian Authority sports chief and convicted terrorist Jibril Rajoub.

Rajoub strongly denied any compromise or agreement had been reached.

But at the last minute before the proposal was to go to vote, Rajoub submitted an amendment that would cancel the bid to suspend Israel.

The initial bid required three-quarters of the 209 votes to suspend Israel, and Rajoub may have cancelled his bid because he saw he wasn’t even close to having that number.

In the end, the FIFA Congress voted 165-18 to pass the amendment that cancelled the attempt to suspend Israel.

Rajoub claims he cancelled it because of the many phone calls he received from other football presidents.

Dozens of football presidents had already stated publicly they would not vote to suspend Israel in the FIFA Congress.

After the amendment passed, Israel’s delegate, Ofer Eini, said that politics and football have no place together and called on Rajoub to cooperate and work together with him.

Jewish Press News Briefs

FIFA Pres. to Bibi: No Reason to Suspend Israel, But That Might Not Help

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

The head of FIFA, Fédération Internationale de Football Association, the European football (soccer) league, Seppp Blatter, told Prime Minister Netanyahu on Tuesday, that he sees no reason that Israel should be suspended from the FIFA as it hasn’t violated any FIFA statutes.

Terrorist leader Jibril Rajoub, who is also president of the Palestinian Authority Football Association has been working hard to get Israel kicked out.

FIFA is actually set to meet on May 29 to debate Rajoub’s motion among its 209 members. It’s needs a three-quarter majority to pass. If it passes, Israel will be banned from international competitions.

Rajoub has rejected an Israeli request for a Peace Game between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Meanwhile, the PA’s partner. Hamas, has hidden underground missile launchers in its soccer fields, and has used them to launch rocket attacks on Israeli civilians. If anyone should be kicked out of FIFA, it is the Palestinian Authority.

In 1970, Rajoub threw a grenade at an IDF bus. He’s been arrested numerous times for other terrorist activities, and was allegedly involved in a plot to assassinate Ariel Sharon in 1992.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/fifa-pres-to-bibi-no-reason-to-suspend-israel/2015/05/20/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: