Palestinian football president denied entry into Australia

Jibril Rajoub, President of the Palestine Football Association speaks on stage during the 74th FIFA Congress 2024 at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center (QSNCC) on May 17, 2024 in Bangkok, Thailand. [Getty]

Australian authorities have denied entry to the Palestine Football Association’s (PFA) president Jibril Rajoub ahead of the Palestinian team’s World Cup qualifier against Perth’s Socceroos on Tuesday.  

According to Australian media, Rajoub was due to fly from the Qatari capital of Doha via private jet with his team and was set to arrive in Perth on Saturday. 

Local news outlet 7News reported that the PFA president was not among the group set to land in Australia, as information was obtained that Rajoub was rejected by the Australian Department of Home Affairs. 

The news publication stated that officials denied him entry based on a “technicality in his application” and not on character grounds. 

In a statement, the department said, “All non-citizens applying for visas to enter Australia are considered on an individual basis against legal requirements set out in Australia’s migration legislation.” 

According to 7News, officials of world football governing body FIFA have additionally attempted to intervene using their political influence. 

However, there was little success following repeated attempts.  

“As is standard procedure for all FIFA World Cup 2026 preliminary round matches, the relevant participating member associations are in regular contact concerning the match organisation, which includes visa requirements amongst other things, to ensure that each match is delivered as smoothly as possible,” FIFA said in a statement. 

Football Australia, the nation’s football authority, additionally confirmed that it has been notified of the ongoing situation. 

“Football Australia is aware of the situation regarding the President of the Palestine Football Association, Jibril Rajoub,” a spokesperson told sports news channel ESPN. “This is a matter for the Australian Government. 

“Football Australia welcomes the Palestinian men’s national team for Tuesday’s FIFA World Cup Asian qualification match at HBF Park. 

“In line with our responsibilities as the host member association, we provide visa support to all visiting football delegations and will continue to work with the Australian Government to facilitate the arrival of football stakeholders.” 

Australia and Palestine are set to play against each other at Perth-based football stadium HBF Park on Tuesday night for a World Cup qualification match. 

Rajoub, who heads both the Palestinian Football Association and the Palestine Olympic Committee, has led calls for Israel’s suspension from world football amid its war on Gaza. 

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

FIFA said last month that it will seek independent legal advice before holding an extraordinary council meeting by July 25 to make a decision on the Palestinian proposal. 

At the FIFA congress in Bangkok, Rajoub said “the Palestinian people, including the Palestinian football family, are enduring an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe.” 

Rajoub also stated he had been threatened because of his sanctions proposal. 

“The Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs has made serious threats to imprison me if I do not withdraw this proposal, but no power in the world can stand in the way of truth,” Rajoub said. 

Palestine made history after booking a place in the third round of the FIFA World Cup qualifiers for the first time following a goalless draw on Thursday against Lebanon in Doha.

Against the backdrop of the devastating war in Gaza, the Palestinian team has already claimed a piece of footballing history this year by making a debut appearance in the Asian Cup knockout phase.

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