Australian footballer calls for Israel suspension at FIFA

61st FIFA congress at the Zurich Hallenstadion in Zurich. [Getty]

Retired Australian athlete Craig Foster is the latest figure in the football world to criticise Israel and call for its suspension, following its seven-month assault in Gaza. This comes as the world’s football body is set to meet on 17 May.

Foster joined calls for Israel’s ban on Friday, supporting the Palestinian Football Association (PFA)’s request to FIFA made in March, ahead of the organisations annual Congress in Thailand. 

The PFA highlighted Israeli violations against Palestinians in Gaza, specifically targeting Palestinian footballers and football infrastructure.

Foster, a former player for Australia’s international team and English Premier League side Crystal Palace, and anti-racism advocate, made his own plea in a post on X- advising other members of the football community to follow suit. 

“I’m sure many love football like you and I, and yet FIFA has said and done nothing,” Foster said in his video statement on the social media platform. 

“The Palestine Football Association has called for an urgent hearing next week and 12 associations from the West Asian Football Federation for the immediate suspension of Israel until hostilities cease.” 

 “I support these demands along with the release of all hostages and accountability for all parties for war crimes,” he continued.

Foster added that he has written to Australia’s football federation to back the calls for the ban, as he also urged Australia’s football community and fans worldwide to show support . 

PFA chief Jibril Rajoub has confirmed that the Palestinian football body has submitted a draft resolution to FIFA, who said that Palestinians were at risk of genocide which has significantly affected the Palestinian football community. 

Rajoub added that since Israel’s military offensive in Gaza, 256 football players, administrators and technicians have been killed since 7 October. 

Dozens of Palestinians are still missing under the rubble, while Rajoub added that hundreds of others had also been arrested under “difficult and harsh conditions”. 

In addition, all sports facilities in the Gaza Strip have been destroyed by Israeli forces, having been turned into military centres where interrogations and brutal cases of torture allegedly take place against detained Palestinians.  

Rajoub says that in accordance with FIFA law, Israel must be held to account for multiple violations of international law, which also consists of crimes against various members of the Palestinian sports community. 

In 2022, FIFA disallowed all Russian teams to participate in international football due to due to the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. 

However, in October of last year, FIFA lifted the ban by allowing under-17 girls and boys teams from the country to take part in tournaments. 

When approached by FIFA for comment, they referred The New Arab to a document listing the full schedule for next week’s FIFA Congress meeting. 

FIFA’s representatives also highlighted the organisation’s president Gianni Infantino’s previous address to the Israel and Palestine Football Associations in October 2023, where he offered his condolences over the “horrendous violence” unfolding in Gaza and Israel. 

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