Palestinian chief says could take Israel to sports court

Geneva (AFP) – The Palestinian football chief told AFP Tuesday he would appeal to the world’s top sports court if FIFA fails to punish Israel over clubs based in the occupied West Bank. 

At issue are six small-time Israeli football clubs which play in Jewish settlements that are considered illegal under international law, alongside travel restrictions imposed on Palestinian players by Israel, which have fuelled a protracted dispute at world football’s governing body.

Palestine Football Association (PFA) president Jibril Rajoub said the two sides met at FIFA headquarters in Zurich on Tuesday for seven hours with no breakthrough achieved and little hope for a compromise. 

“Israel didn’t even come up with any serious argument,” he said. “I don’t think there will be any agreement.”

Rajoub said the PFA continues to “trust” FIFA and will wait for the body’s council to make a definitive ruling on the dispute, which could come when the council meets next in January. 

But if FIFA drags its feet or fails to stand up to the Jewish state, Rajoub vowed to take the fight further. 

“If they are not going forward, we can go to the CAS,” he said referring to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland, which generally has the final say in major sport disputes. 

“We will not give up. We will never accept any compromise,” he added. 

At last month’s FIFA council meet, world football’s president Gianni Infantino urged both camps to set aside politics and find a solution “for football.”

Infantino has tasked South African businessman, anti-apartheid leader and sport powerbroker Tokyo Sexwale to lead a commission on the dispute.  

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