FIFA Congress accepts decision to delay vote on West Bank teams


JERUSALEM (JTA) — The FIFA Congress voted to accept the proposal of the governing body of international soccer’s council and not hold a vote on a Palestinian proposal questioning the status of Israeli teams in the West Bank.

The vote passed Thursday with the approval of 73 percent of the member FIFA nations. It comes after the council of FIFA on Tuesday decided that it would be “premature” to make a decision on the status of Israeli teams that play in the West Bank.

Votes on similar resolutions have been delayed for the last three years.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino says that the FIFA Council will make a decision on the issue by March 2018.

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The FIFA Congress began its annual two-day meeting on Wednesday in Manama, Bahrain.

The six West Bank teams, which play in lower level leagues, are located in Maale Adumim, Ariel, Kiryat Arba, Givat Zeev, Oranit and the Jordan Valley.

The Palestinians say this violates FIFA’s rules, which state that “Member associations and their clubs may not play on the territory of another member association without the latter’s approval.” They have called for sanctions against the Israeli league and its removal from FIFA altogether.

When Russia occupied Crimea in 2014, FIFA’s European affiliate UEFA blocked Russia from incorporating teams from Crimea in its national league, on the basis of the same rule.

Senior Israeli and American officials reportedly had been pressuring Infantino over the weekend to delay a vote on the issue of West Bank teams. Palestinian Football Association President Jabril Rajoub told FIFA’s Congress that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Infantino to ask him to delay the vote.

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