FIFA President Sepp Blatter claims he is “confident” a resolution will be reached between the Israel Football Association (IFA) and the Palestine Football Association (PFA) ahead of their Congress in Zurich next week after meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today.
The PFA have submitted a proposal to have the IFA suspended from FIFA for imposing restrictions on the movement of their players between the Gaza Strip and the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
The issue is set to be voted on during FIFA’s Congress, due to take place on May 28 and 29 at their headquarters in the Swiss city, and Blatter, aiming to secure a fifth term in office, is hopeful an agreement can be made between the two feuding organisations following a meeting with IFA President Ofer Eini and Netanyahu today.
The meeting follows discussions held between Blatter, Eini and PFA President Jibril Rajoub, where they did agree to “pursue dialogue” on the matter but the talks appeared to have been unsuccessful after Rajoub refused to drop his organisation’s proposal.
“I have obtained a message which I will present tomorrow to the Palestinian Football Association and Palestinian politicians as part of my mission,” Blatter said in a statement.
“I remain confident that we will find a solution for the benefit of football development ahead of the FIFA Congress.
“Football is nowadays such a strong organisation that we should go into a peace situation and not into a fighting situation, and football shall connect and not divide people.
“I'm very happy about what Prime Minister Netanyahu has said.
“Yes, football is stronger than all the problems there could be and I'm sure we will find a solution.”
Blatter, who will be challenged by Jordanian FA President Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB) chief Michael van Praag and former Portuguese international Luis Figo for his Presidency at the Congress, will now meet with representatives from Palestine in order to continue the discussions.
If an agreement is not reached before next week, the issue will go to a vote and if FIFA do decide to uphold the PFA’s proposal, Israel could be banned from competing in its international competitions, such as the UEFA Champions League and qualifiers for UEFA Euro 2016.
However, this remains unlikely as FIFA only usually enforce a suspension where there is clear evidence of Governments interfering with the respective football associations.