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Activists Aim to Kick Apartheid Out of Football

Worldwide Activism, Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, April 22nd, 2006

Palestine activists have launched a move to get Apartheid Israel suspended from the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA) in protest against the ongoing subjugation of the Palestinian people and as part of the wider global call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against the Occupation.

FIFA is the sport’s governing body worldwide and numerous letters in support of the action have been sent to its President, Sepp Blatter. An online petition has already gathered more than 4,000 signatures.

The campaigners point out the consequences the Occupation and Apartheid has on their lives and professional possibilities. The petition highlights Apartheid Israel’s “obstruction of Palestinian representation and participation in international sports,” as part of a campaign by the Occupation to “deny Palestinian national identity.” This campaign is orchestrated throughout the whole of Palestinian society, of which football is just one example.

All sorts of measures have been taken by the Occupation to block the Palestinian national football team and Palestinian sportsmen and women in recent years. Most recently, said the letter to Blatter, on March 30th 2006 Occupation Forces bombed the Palestine Football Stadium in Gaza, leaving a massive crater in the middle of the pitch.

“In 2004,” it continued, Apartheid Israel “set out to prevent the Palestinian football team from representing the Palestinian people on an international level during the (FIFA) World Cup qualifiers by disallowing several members of the team from leaving Gaza.” In part of the Occupation’s attempts to destroy Palestinian identity, Palestine is forced to play all its “home” games in a foreign country. The ghettoization of the Palestinian people imposes on the Palestinian football team to hold its practice sessions in Egypt.

The petition also condemned the Occupation’s raids, curfews, checkpoints and closures that destroy the lives of the Palestinian people.

The letter to Mr Blatter concluded that, “suspending Israel’s membership from FIFA is the only appropriate sanction for its discriminatory practices.”

This action is the latest step against the world of football’s support for Apartheid Israel and the Occupation. For the last two months, solidarity activists have flooded the offices of London’s Arsenal Football Club with letters and petitions to protest the club’s decision to promote Apartheid Israel as its official tourist destination. At a time when the global “Kick Racism out of Football” campaign is gathering momentum, the sport should be looking to make a firm stand against the racist occupation of Palestine.

Letters to support the campaign to suspend Apartheid Israel from FIFA should be emailed to Mr. Sepp Blatter at [email protected] or posted to FIFA House, Hitzigweg 11, P.O. Box 85, 8030 Zurich, Switzerland.

The petition can be signed at: http://www.petitiononline.com/FIFAPal/petition.html