The International Football Federation (FIFA) which meets in Zurich on May 28-29 will consider whether to suspend the Israeli Football Association (IFA). Victor Montagliani (r), President of the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA), will have a vote. Which way will Canada vote? The CSA would not return phone calls to discuss. An open letter follows.
President, Canadian Soccer Association, and
Member, FIFA executive committee
April 25th, 2015
RE: Canada’s vote on the upcoming motion to suspend Israeli Football Association (IFA) from membership in International Football Association (FIFA)
Dear Mr. Montagliani,
After several unsuccessful efforts to reach you through the Canadian Soccer Association, I have decided to revert to this open letter concerning an issue which will be presented to the 64th FIFA Congress in Zurich, Switzerland on May 28-29, 2015.
The issue concerns the proposal to suspend the Israeli Football Association (IFA) until such time as Israel significantly changes its behaviour with respect to the Palestinian National Team. It arises out of the fact that the State of Israel controls all movement of people and goods into and out of Palestinian territory. It is alleged that israel has deliberately damaged Palestinian sports facilities, and has established teams in the illegal Israeli settlements in the Occupied West Bank, contrary to FIFA’s statutes.
On 20 March 2015 the Palestinian Football Association submitted a resolution which calls for the suspension of the IFA until certain conditions are satisfied, including:
- Players, staff and officials can move freely into, out of and within Palestine; football equipment can be imported without hindrance.
- Football facilities can be developed in Palestine without hindrance.
- Football clubs established in the illegal settlements in the West Bank are banned from playing in IFA competitions.
As you know, these conditions address long-standing grievances.
Two years ago, FIFA President Sepp Blatter warned that Israel could be suspended from international football. “If Israel is not careful the only team it will be able to play is Cameroon,” Mr Blatter told Israel FA Chairman Avi Luzon in 2013. (Fifa suspended Cameroon over government interference in the country’s football federation.) A FIFA task force was established, but regrettably, attempts to resolve the issue have come to naught.
Mr. Montagliani, the decision to suspend a team from competition is a serious one, and should not be taken lightly. But so are the accusations being raised by the Palestinian Soccer Association about Israeli harassment and racism.
As President of the Canadian Soccer Association, you will be able to cast the Canadian vote on this question. In addition, as member of FIFA’s executive body, you will have a significant say in how any resolution is carried out. Canadians will be particularly interested in your decision given the fact that Canada will be hosting the FIFA Women’s World Cup barely a week later.
I would encourage you to give the resolution due consideration, reflecting Canadian values of fairness and opposition to racism of all kinds.
Thank you very much for your consideration,
National Education Committee on Israel/Palestine
National Council on Canada-Arab Relations
Anybody interested in encouraging President Montagliani to reflect Canadian values of justice and fair play can contact him through:
237 Metcalfe Street
Ottawa, ON K2P 1R2
or by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
(The Canadian Soccer Association would not provide either an email or phone number for Mr. Montagliani.)