Rajoub Defends Dropped Bid Against Israel at FIFA

June 3, 2015  

Palestinian Football Association (PFA) chief Jibril Rajoub said Tuesday he took full responsibility for the 11th-hour decision to withdraw a bid to have FIFA suspend Israel, AFP reported.

Rajoub announced the surprise decision Friday at the annual FIFA congress in Zurich, sparking anger among Palestinian Arabs, some of whom have demanded Rajoub’s resignation.

“I take full responsibility for this matter,” he told reporters in Al-Bireh near Ramallah, insisting that the resolution had not been dropped but only suspended.

“From the start, I said this was about sport, not politics,” he added, according to AFP.

Rajoub had campaigned to have Israel suspended from FIFA because, he claimed, Israel was restricting the movement of Palestinian Arab players. 

He admitted Tuesday that the PFA had come under a lot of pressure from fellow associations as well as from UEFA chief Michel Platini to back off from the move.

“Most of the football associations told us they would vote against us if we presented the motion as it was,” he said.

“We modified the motion and froze the suspension until FIFA is able to investigate,” added Rajoub, who made similar comments in an interview on Israeli radio on Saturday.

Ahead of the congress, FIFA chief Sepp Blatter travelled to the region for talks with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas to try to resolve the dispute.

But Rajoub denied that Abbas was involved in the decision to drop the resolution, insisting he “had nothing to do with it.”

Rajoub added that cornering Israel over its actions both on and off the pitch putting was “a historic and important milestone in the history of Palestinian sports.”

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