Palestinian, Israeli Football Officials In ‘heated’ Meeting

Palestinian and Israeli football officials were involved in “heated” talks Wednesday as FIFA attempted to mediate complaints that Israeli clubs are illegally playing in the occupied West Bank, a source told AFP.

Palestinians argue that the presence of six Israeli football clubs playing on land containing settlements seen as illegal under international law is in breach of FIFA statutes.

As a result, pressure has built for the clubs to either relocate or face being banned.

On Wednesday a special committee under the presidency of South African official Tokyo Sexwale met at FIFA headquarters along with the president of the Israeli Football Federation, Ofer Eini, and his Palestinian counterpart Jibril Rajoub.

“The meeting was stormy, even virulent,” a source close to the talks told AFP.

Sexwale presented a “draft final report containing specific recommendations”, FIFA said in a statement, adding that the parties will “come back” to him before he submits his final report to the FIFA Congress in May in Bahrain.

The source told AFP that Sexwale presented three possible options — to retain the status quo “with the legal risks arising therefrom”; allow the Israeli federation six months “to rectify the situation of the six clubs in question”; or to request new negotiations between the two sides.

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