Arab world sends message as they honour Palestine sports administrator banned by Israel
Monday, 07 January 2013
January 7 - Jibril Mahmoud Mohammed Rajoub, President of both the Palestine Olympic Committee and Palestinian Football Association, has been honoured at the 2012 Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Creative Sports Awards - as the Arab world used the occasion to send out a powerful message to the rest of the world.
The 59-year-old was bestowed with the prestigious Arab Administrator prize at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel in Dubai, although he did not collect the award in person because he is currently banned from travelling.
Rajoub receives the Arab Administrator award as his actions have "epitomised the dream of Palestinian sports through the recognition of the world sports organizations to be in equal treatment with world sports".
The award comes just days after FIFA requested Israel to return Rajoub's VIP status which allows him to enter the country without security checks.
FIFA federation leaders, such as Rajoub in his capacity of Palestinian FA, traditionally receive the equivalent to diplomatic status when it comes to travel but because of the tense situation in the occupied territories, Israel keeps a close check on all movements including those involving athletes and officials.
FIFA made it clear where they stand on the matter by confirming they have asked the Israeli Football Association to help secure Rajoub's "freedom of movement" and prevent him having to go through the usual bureaucracy.
The Arab Administrator prize will undoubtedly help Rajoub cause as it illustrates that he has the full support of the Arab sporting world.
In a letter to Israel Football Association President Avi Luzon, FIFA Secretary-General Jérôme Valcke asked for Rajoub's pass be returned in order to allow him to attend events around the world after his status was lowered last month because he had "incited to violence against Israel".
Rajoub can still freely in and out of Israel but now needs to show credentials and could be subject to security checks.
The status change is likely linked to the recent United Nations endorsement of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza which prompted outrage in Israel.