Alalamalislami: Pro-Palestinians have staged a rally in the Swiss city of Zurich to call on football’s governing body, FIFA, to expel Israel from world soccer tournaments.
On Thursday, the protesters gathered outside the venue for the 65th FIFA Congress, waved pro-Palestine banners and flags, and shouted, "We want justice! We want freedom!" and "Free, free Palestine!" as delegates turned up for the event.
"We gathered here today to call for the expulsion of Israel from FIFA, because of Israel's Zionist and racist policies towards the Palestinian people," a pro-Palestinian demonstrator, identified only by his first name, Ahmed, said.
He added, "We want freedom for Palestine. We want the Israeli army out. We want them to stop building settlements in Palestine, and we want them to get rid of the racist separation wall in Jerusalem (al-Quds), and we want all the Palestinian refugees to be able to return to Palestine."
Demonstrators call for the expulsion of Israel from FIFA during a protest rally prior to the opening of the 65th FIFA Congress in Zurich, Switzerland, on May 28, 2015. ©AFP
Palestinian Football Federation President Jibril Rajoub also said, "This protest shows that the world is fed up with the naughty Israeli attitude against the international laws, the FIFA laws, and the human rights law. I hope that FIFA will realize how Palestinian athletes suffer, and I hope they will help them to achieve their rights to play this game, develop it, and promote it."
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has claimed that if FIFA votes Friday in favor of the Palestinian motion to outs Israel out of the world soccer governing body, the decision would ultimately "destroy" the organization.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ©AFP
“The attempt to hurt Israel politically will destroy FIFA, because it will start with Israel... and then the next,” he said on Thursday.
Israel qualified for its only FIFA World Cup to date as an Asian team in 1970. Four years later, the Israeli soccer team was expelled from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), and the squad now competes in international soccer matches as a member of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA). The Israeli side has so far failed to score a major victory in European soccer fixtures.