Lawyers and other law professionals have signed the following statement in regard to the serious breaches of FIFA’s specified objectives as they relate to human rights, anti-discrimination, and equality for the promotion of football in a globally accessible and unifying manner.
During the World Cup 2022, players and fans in Qatar and all over the world have taken a strong stand for Palestine exposing these serious breaches by FIFA.
As lawyers and law professionals we remind you that:
Both Israel and the State of Palestine are members of the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) and subject to its internal regulations.
Israel has violated the principles of FIFA in a variety of ways that would normally warrant disciplinary actions and even a suspension of its membership. However, the politics of FIFA have prevented the organization in the past from taking such action. Its internal by-laws have even been amended to make it more difficult for the Palestine Football Association (PFA) to demand such action.
In the past, it has also been the policy of FIFA to punish any raising of Palestinian flags by players and clubs who are not Palestinian, on the basis that “politics and sports should not mix.” The Palestine Football Association (PFA) fought a legal battle for years with integrity and had their case illegally shut down; however, FIFA did not even bother following the legal process in their suspension of Russia. The hypocrisy and double standards are unacceptable. Palestinians have been treated unjustly.
Our objections include:
A. The IFA (Israel Football Association) allows players and even five clubs from the illegal Israeli settlements (legally under the jurisdiction of Palestine), to play in their national league without first obtaining permission from the PFA. This is a straightforward violation of FIFA regulations that must be addressed.
B. Israel, by means of its military administration and control of the Occupied Palestinian Territories, has taken a number of measures that harm the sport of football, including:
- International travel restrictions on Palestinian players and coaches
- Restricting the movement of football players between Gaza, the West Bank, and Jerusalem
- Refusal to allow the building of stadiums and facilities in Area C of the West Bank, the only viable location for such facilities
- Failing to release Palestinian sports equipment from Israeli customs, as Israel controls all borders
- Administrative arrests of footballers and attacks upon, including the tear-gassing of, sports events
C. Finally, we object to the prevalence of blatantly racist sloganeering (“Death to Arabs”) and anti-Arab violence associated with IFA games. This runs counter to FIFA’s stated goal of confronting racism.
Competitions in which fair play should prevail cannot be held if, in order to reach them, all the rules of fair play that humanity has endowed itself with have been violated. For years, FIFA has been ignoring the existence of international obligations in terms of fundamental rights and has always positioned itself on the side that can generate the most profit.
The international authorities and the authorities of the different countries where FIFA operates have the obligation to investigate the various existing complaints and, with these results, to demand from FIFA those responsibilities that arise from these investigations.
We are committed to clean sport, especially in terms of human rights.
We, the undersigned, insist that it is incompatible to hold any sporting competition if it does not take place within a framework of fair play that goes far beyond the sporting field itself, that is, if the rules of fair play that every citizen must respect are not respected in the organisation and implementation of the competition, which are none other than respect for human rights and international humanitarian law.
FIFA, as the umbrella organization for the sport of football in its entirety and its highest governing body, needs to carry out its legal and moral obligations.
FIFA must sanction the Israel Football Association until the above objections have been resolved.
John Liss, Lawyer, Toronto
James Kafieh, Lawyer, Perth, Ontario
Kristina Cooke, Lawyer, Ottawa
Hagar Elsayed, Lawyer, Canada
Saptarishi Bandopadhyay, Law Professor, Toronto
Yaman Midani, Law Student, United Kingdom
Dimitri Lascaris, Lawyer. Montreal
Tim Louis, Lawyer, Vancouver
John Liss, Lawyer, Toronto
Cheryl Gaster, Human Rights Lawyer (Retired), Canada
Shane Martinez, Lawyer & Adjunct Professor of Law, Toronto
Jonathan Kuttab, Lawyer, Palestine-Israel-USA