Red Card Israeli Racism- update

STOP PRESS: 

Blatter to meet Palestine football chief over bid to bar Israel

Red Card Israeli Racism campaign: Outline on 30 March 2015

This campaign extends BDS into football.

The Israeli government considers membership of European sports confederations a vital part of its normalisation activities. Of the sixteen existing European sports confederations, Israel is a member of 15 (including cricket and rugby!). Football is by far Israel’s biggest sport and a football boycott will be immediately obvious not only to the government but also to a wide swathe of fans across Israel. Its emotional, and hence, political impact is likely to be strong.

The Israeli FA was admitted to the European Football Association, UEFA, in 1994, soon after the Oslo accords.  For twenty years prior to that the IFA had no place in official international competitions as it had been expelled from the Asian Football Confederation in 1974.

Currently RCIR has three active campaigns.  Details of previous activities are given below and on the campaign website.

1)    RCIR’s CAMPAIGN TO GET ISRAEL SUSPENDED FROM FIFA

RCIR’s main campaign is the suspension of the Israeli Football Association (IFA) from FIFA, world football’s ruling body, until Israel observes international law and respects the human rights of Palestinians.

It became apparent in 2013 that the Palestinian Football Association (PFA) was determined to use FIFA to pressurise the Israelis into stopping their repression of Palestinian football and in particular their preventing the free movement of players and officials between the West Bank and Gaza and other countries.

RCIR therefore decided in 2013 to support the PFA with the above campaign and in 2014 launched an one-line petition.  We believed the chances of FIFA members passing a motion supporting the PFA were reasonably high bearing in mind the potential core support from countries in the Asian Football Confederation.

A FIFA Task Force did attempt to improve the situation during 2013-2014, but their initiatives were undermined by Israel and came to nought.  This was unsurprising bearing in mind Israel’s contemptuous treatment of the West Bank and Gazan populations.

At the annual Congress in 2013, the PFA presented FIFA member associations with a booklet describing the injustices they were suffering but was not allowed to address the meeting.  At the 2014 Congress in Rio, the PFA was allowed to make a presentation which outlined its problems in stark detail but were persuaded not to present a motion of censure.  For the 2015 Congress, the PFA has presented a motion calling for suspension of the IFA subject to certain football-related conditions.  RCIR and other European activists of similar campaigns will be demonstrating outside the FIFA Congress in Zurich on 28/29 May, 2015. RCIR will also be presenting its petition.

However, there are moral objections to IFA membership of FIFA as well as the technical football objections.  And there is a clear precedent in the exclusion of the South African FA from FIFA between 1964 and 1992.

For more details of planned RCIR actions planned go to FIFA and IFA | Red Card Israeli Racism.

 

2)        FAIR PLAY FOR PALESTINE: the campaign around UEFA’s Euro 2016 competition: the Wales v Israel matches in 2015.

In the qualifying round of the competition on 28 March 2015, Wales played Israel away and won 3-0. They will play the return match in Cardiff on 6 September 2015.

On 28 March 2015 Cardiff PSC and Cardiff Stop the War held a meeting to kick off the Fair Play for Palestine campaign   Speakers included Ray Davies, anti apartheid activist in South Africa and Palestine, Ramzy Baroud, founder and managing editor of Middle East Eye, Baroness Tonge, and local union and council officials, and the Easton Cowgirls, a team that had played various matches in Palestine last year.

The Cardiff groups aim to hold a number of events to maintain a high profile for our campaign prior to the Sunday 6 September home game when a national rally will be held before the 5pm Kick Off in the park near the Cardiff FC ground. PSC have offered their support.

For further details see:  Wales 2015 | Red Card Israeli Racism

3)        UEFA 2015 Women’s Under 19 competition.

UEFA chose to hold the finals of this competition in Israel in the summer of 2015.  RCIR made submissions to UEFA for the finals to be moved to another country, and advised the English players and managers of the objections to playing in Israel, and more specifically in Jerusalem.  See: Women’s U19 finals | Red Card Israeli Racism

 

Previous campaigns and activities

  • No Israeli hosting of EURO 2020 tournaments, 2014RCIR achieved a major success with its detailed objections to UEFA of why Jerusalem should as a host city for one of the tournaments in this new format competition.  We wrote several letters to UEFA and were eventually delighted to learn that Jerusalem had not been chosen.
  • Mahmoud Sarsak tour of England and Scotland, 2013  RCIR was instrumental in bringing leading Palestinian footballer Mahmoud Sarsak to the UK after his 3 years imprisonment in Israel. We had previously campaigned for his release with many others, and Mahmoud credits FIFA and UEFA with obtaining his release.  Mahmoud was able to describe to football and activist groups the disgraceful reality of Israeli brutality and torture.
  • Campaign to move the 2013 UEFA Under 21 finals from Israel.  This campaign to move kicked off in February 2011 and gathered support from leaders of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine and Patrons of PSC, forty-two Palestinian sports clubs, Frederic Kanoute and fifty one international footballers.  A major rally was held in front of the UEFA Congress in the UK on 24 May, 2013. UEFA was not persuaded to move the finals but a great deal of useful publicity was generated.
    • Leafleting at UK football matches.  Groups have held banners and leafleted at matches in cities including Newcastle, Liverpool, London, Norwich, Wrexham, and Cardiff.  We aim to spread this activity.

More details are given on the pages and posts on the RCIR campaign website.

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