Will Israel be banned from international football matches?

Israel is said to have converted a football stadium in the Gaza Strip into a concentration camp.

By Michael Selutin | | Topics: Gaza
Israeli soccer player Sagiv Yehezkel has been dismissed from his Turkish team and placed under investigation for "publicly inciting the public to hatred and hostility." Photo by Chaim Goldberg/FLASH90
Israeli soccer player Sagiv Yehezkel has been dismissed from his Turkish team and placed under investigation for "publicly inciting the public to hatred and hostility." Photo by Chaim Goldberg/FLASH90

The 74th FIFA Annual Congress will take place in Bangkok, Thailand in May. One of the issues being discussed there is a ban on Israel’s participation in international football competitions against the backdrop of the war in Gaza. The proposal was made to FIFA ahead of the congress to address “unprecedented and significant violations of human rights and humanitarian law by Israel in the occupied territories.”

Following the proposal in February by several Arab countries, including Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Algeria, Yemen and Iraq, the Palestinian Association also joined the campaign and made the proposal in very strong terms against the Israeli Football Association.

 

Jews build concentration camps

“We call for appropriate and immediate sanctions against Israeli teams, including national and club teams, due to the violation of international law by the Israeli occupation in Palestine and in particular in the Gaza Strip,” said the Palestinian federation’s proposal to FIFA.

They added that there are five clubs in the Israeli league that were founded on “occupied Palestinian land” and said that the playing fields in the Gaza Strip had been destroyed by the “Israeli occupation army”: “The entire football infrastructure in the Gaza Strip has been destroyed or severely damaged damaged, including the historic ‘Al-Yarmouk’ stadium, which was converted into a concentration camp by the Israeli occupation. Israeli bulldozers dug up the site and then destroyed it. Other facilities became makeshift refugee camps, field hospitals and mass graves.”

 

Jihad in sports

International sport has been the site of anti-Israel efforts by Muslim countries for many years. Since the war in Gaza, sports jihad has increased and more and more sports associations have to defend themselves against pressure from their member countries that are fighting Israel on this stage.

For example, Palestinian sports organizations and others from Arab countries have already called for sanctions against Israel and preventing its participation in the 2024 Summer Olympics, which begin in Paris in July.

However, since October 7th, the Muslim population, especially in Europe, has been disrupting sporting events in which Israelis take part. For this reason, a European Championship qualifier between Israel and Switzerland was played in November in Hungary, where only a relatively small Muslim minority lives.

 

Comparison with Russia

How unobjective the boycott of Israel in sport is is shown by the way some “Israel critics” justify it. They compare the war in Gaza to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and argue that Israel, like Russia, should be banned from international sports.

Immediately after the invasion in February 2022, Russian national and club football teams were banned from international competitions, including the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Of course, Israel is portrayed as the aggressor in this scenario, even though it is waging a defensive war in Gaza. It is therefore more comparable to Ukraine, which receives worldwide sympathy for its war against Russia. But since Israel is a Jewish country, it is also treated like a Jew on the world stage, i.e. isolated, attacked and slandered.

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