Israeli Clubs in West Bank: Breach of FIFA Regulations?

Discussion in 'FIFA and Tournaments' started by Nico Limmat, Jul 4, 2016.

  1. Nico Limmat

    Nico Limmat Moderator
    Staff Member

    Oct 24, 1999
    Dubai, UAE
    Club:
    Grasshopper Club Zürich
    Country:
    Switzerland
    I was hesitant to start this thread because of its emotional political nature but this simmering conflict could soon blow up in FIFA's face and put the governing body in the eye of a political storm. But first things first. The purpose of this thread is to discuss the FIFA regulatory angle, not a moral debate about the underlying conflict. Posts that stray too far will be deleted with warnings/bans to follow.

    With that out of the way, let's rewind to May 2015. Before the FIFA congress that month (yes, the one with all the arrests) the Palestinian FA sought to suspend Israel from FIFA. A vote on suspension was halted at nearly the last minute when a promise was made to the PFA to look at their concerns, namely the following:

    1. Freedom of movement for players, Palestinian or otherwise, between Gaza and the West Bank.
    2. The Israeli FA affiliation of five clubs in the West Bank.

    The first falls heavily into the debate of national security and can be argued either way. I don't see much value in discussing that here. Instead I would like to focus on the second one, especially since we now have the Crimean decision as a reference point.

    Fast-forward to last month and we still don't have much resolution to present. This opinion piece is quite critical of FIFA's role so far and I would say the author has a point as far as the regulatory frame work is concerned.

    Russia was told off rather quickly by UEFA when they tried to affiliate the Crimean clubs with the Russian FA. Instead they had to create a Crimean FA that has no room in the FIFA setup due to lack of international recognition. I would say this situation is quite similar and FIFA's non-action could be seen as siding with Israel:
    My take: FIFA need to put their foot down and the Israeli FA should play it smart and sever the affiliation of these five clubs. The PFA won't remain idle for much longer and will push for a suspension once again. In Israel's place I would not be overly confident of winning such a suspension vote in the FIFA congress. Unlike the UN there is no security council protection here. The inclusion of Kosovo (a move I supported) has created a political game within the organization and I expect Abkhazia, South Ossetia and the Crimean FA to present their case in due time . The last thing FIFA (and the Israeli FA) need at this point is the Israel-Palestine conflict to end up on the Congress agenda.
     
  2. EvanJ

    EvanJ Member+

    Manchester United
    United States
    Mar 30, 2004
    Nassau County, NY
    Club:
    Manchester United FC
    Country:
    United States
    Does anybody know what the names of the five clubs are?
     
  3. Nico Limmat

    Nico Limmat Moderator
    Staff Member

    Oct 24, 1999
    Dubai, UAE
    Club:
    Grasshopper Club Zürich
    Country:
    Switzerland
    #3 Nico Limmat, Jul 5, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2016
    According to this it is the following five clubs:

    - Beitar Givat Ze’ev
    - Beitar Ironi Ariel
    - Ironi Yehuda
    - Beitar Ironi Ma’aleh Adumim
    - Hapoel Bik’at Hayarden

    From what I can gather they are third and fourth division teams. (How long have they been playing there?)

    It's one thing for the Israeli FA to risk their status in the sport for a handful of lower division clubs but I don't understand FIFA's hesitation in all of this. This is a clear violation of the PFA's jurisdiction. If there is any sort of grey area I for one fail to see it. Surely any Israeli outcry is preferable to being dragged into this political mess? Is FIFA waiting for CAS to make a decision? It doesn't make sense to wait, the PFA will first go to FIFA Congress because a democratic vote to suspend Israel is much more powerful than a court decision (not to mention the wider political message that goes with it). CAS will always be there as a recourse.

    This search for a "compromise" shows me FIFA are at their weakest in a long time, perhaps ever. If you can't tell a smaller association like Israel to step off then how are you going to handle an open revolt by the leading European clubs?
     
    EvanJ repped this.
  4. Dune

    Dune Member

    Feb 10, 1999
    But does the Palestinian FA want these clubs under their jurisdiction? I doubt it would be possible even if the clubs would accept it. There has to be some common sense in this case.
     
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  5. Nico Limmat

    Nico Limmat Moderator
    Staff Member

    Oct 24, 1999
    Dubai, UAE
    Club:
    Grasshopper Club Zürich
    Country:
    Switzerland
    Pretty certain the PFA and the clubs in question don't wish to have any affiliation whatsoever. The point is you can't - as per FIFA Statutes - set up your competition in someone else's territory without explicit approval from the home association. And the home association in this case is the PFA - no matter the reality on the ground. Look at the aforementioned Crimean example.

    Unless these clubs started playing in the West Bank before 1998 (the year the Palestinian FA was admitted to FIFA) there is really no valid counter argument in my opinion.

    Imagine Liga MX trying to put a club in Los Angeles without USSF approval.
     
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  6. EvanJ

    EvanJ Member+

    Manchester United
    United States
    Mar 30, 2004
    Nassau County, NY
    Club:
    Manchester United FC
    Country:
    United States
    Here is when the clubs were founded according to Wikipedia:

    Beitar Giv'at Ze'ev: 1999
    Beitar Ironi Ariel: No Wikipedia page
    Ironi Yehuda: 2005
    Beitar Ironi Ma’aleh Adumim: No Wikipedia page
    Hapoel Bik’at Hayarden: 1999
     
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  7. Nico Limmat

    Nico Limmat Moderator
    Staff Member

    Oct 24, 1999
    Dubai, UAE
    Club:
    Grasshopper Club Zürich
    Country:
    Switzerland
    Thanks for that. Of course the year of foundation may not give the full picture as some of these clubs could have been relocated to the West Bank later on. I do wonder if the two clubs founded in 1999 were placed there as a political response to the PFA admission to FIFA in 1998. But that doesn't add up, why would the PFA wait until now to raise this issue?

    In any case, the key event is the PFA's FIFA membership. I can only assume that at the time of admission the Palestinian territory was defined as the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip - in line with the international consensus of the borders. And as the Kosovo example taught us, the international consensus of disputed areas ultimately prevails at FIFA as well.

    The way I see it the IFA has no leg to stand on. The sensible solution is to withdraw all organized football under the Israeli banner from the West Bank. Hopefully common sense prevails.
     
  8. Dune

    Dune Member

    Feb 10, 1999
    Yes, but then we first have to go in to full Trumpmode and imagine Mexico occupying Southern California.
    FIFA may be corrupt and backwatds in some ways but they know how to navigate political minefields. China/Taiwan, IFA/FAI, Kosovo, Gibraltar. They will bent their rules just enough so that both Israel and Palestina will be satisfied.
     
  9. ceezmad

    ceezmad Member+

    Mar 4, 2010
    Chicago
    Club:
    Chicago Red Stars
    Country:
    United States
    Would the 5 clubs be allowed to play under the PFA?
     
  10. ceezmad

    ceezmad Member+

    Mar 4, 2010
    Chicago
    Club:
    Chicago Red Stars
    Country:
    United States
    #10 ceezmad, Aug 11, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2016
    Or both not satisfied, a fair compromise usually leaves both parties not fully satisfied.

    Something like clubs from before 2000 can stay and all others can't unless the PFA gives waivers.
     
  11. Nico Limmat

    Nico Limmat Moderator
    Staff Member

    Oct 24, 1999
    Dubai, UAE
    Club:
    Grasshopper Club Zürich
    Country:
    Switzerland
    I imagine so but the political realities on the ground would prevent it.

    There is no compromise to be found here, the Israeli FA simply has to withdraw its clubs from the West Bank and contain the spat between the two associations to security issues. Speaking of, events around the Palestinian Cup final this month soured relations even further.

    I can see the PFA calling for a FIFA ban again in the near future and if these five clubs continue their existence in the West Bank they (PFA) might just have enough persuasive ammo to get it done.
     
  12. goliath74

    goliath74 Member

    May 24, 2006
    Aventura, FL, United States
    Club:
    FC Dynamo Kyiv
    Country:
    Ukraine
    The problem here (which makes Crimea scenario useless) is that the Israeli clubs are local to West Bank but they can not compete in the West Bank competitions. Crimean clubs are competing against other Crimean clubs and there is no (significant) potential of the supporters of these clubs engaging in an internecine bloodshed.

    The same reasoning was applied when Israel, clearly an Asian nation, was included into the UEFA - to avoid bloodshed. The 5 clubs we are talking about represent large settlement blocks populated almost entirely by Jewish people. We can argue about legitimacy of these settlements but, in my opinion, it is obvious that common sense approach needs to be used here, similar to Israel's placement in the UEFA.
     
  13. Nico Limmat

    Nico Limmat Moderator
    Staff Member

    Oct 24, 1999
    Dubai, UAE
    Club:
    Grasshopper Club Zürich
    Country:
    Switzerland
    Both scenarios deal with clubs in annexed land that isn't recognized as such by a vast majority of nations. FIFA and the confederations follow this consensus. When FIFA admitted Palestine in 1998 it also would have recognized the internationally drawn borders around Gaza and the West Bank. These five clubs (affiliated with the IFA) are clearly located on land that belongs to the PFA jurisdiction.

    The Russian FA tried to affiliate the Crimean clubs under its umbrella until it was told off by UEFA. What you describe is a direct result of that interference. An unofficial Crimean FA was formed with an unofficial league competition. I suppose that could be a "common sense" option here as well. Create some kind of Israeli West Bank league outside of organized football under FIFA. Clearly the affiliation with the IFA has to be untangled.

    The PFA will not relent and if FIFA continue to ignore their own regulations eventually the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) will make this decision. Perhaps FIFA are waiting for exactly that in order not to get their own hands dirty. In the meantime Tokyo Sexwale will kick the can down the road a few more times.
     
  14. EvanJ

    EvanJ Member+

    Manchester United
    United States
    Mar 30, 2004
    Nassau County, NY
    Club:
    Manchester United FC
    Country:
    United States
    FIFA has suspended countries, and punishments have been appealed to the CAS, but has a countries' national team ever been punished by the CAS without FIFA?
     
  15. goliath74

    goliath74 Member

    May 24, 2006
    Aventura, FL, United States
    Club:
    FC Dynamo Kyiv
    Country:
    Ukraine
    There is a huge difference between Crimea and West Bank in this case. In Crimea it is possible to just form a local league and have all Crimean clubs play in it. It is different in West Bank. Unless, of course, you are agitating to create a SEPARATE league just for Jewish clubs in the West Bank.

    Additionally, even today we have situations where clubs outside of the jurisdiction of the home country play in that country's league. Look at several Welsh clubs in the English FA's pyramid!
     
  16. Nico Limmat

    Nico Limmat Moderator
    Staff Member

    Oct 24, 1999
    Dubai, UAE
    Club:
    Grasshopper Club Zürich
    Country:
    Switzerland
    #16 Nico Limmat, Sep 1, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2016
    Not sure, but the PFA is first going to try to push this through FIFA. The message (also the political one) would be all the more powerful. Especially if done by FIFA congress.
    That is exactly what I am proposing. An unofficial Israeli league in the annexed territory of the West Bank. Add three clubs to the existing five and you got an eight-team league.
    Yes, but these cross-border scenarios can only happen with the approval of both associations. That is the whole point. The PFA will never give its blessing here. And unless they do the IFA is violating the jurisdictional integrity of the PFA. To use another example, Mexican Football can not place a club in Los Angeles without US Soccer's approval.
     
  17. goliath74

    goliath74 Member

    May 24, 2006
    Aventura, FL, United States
    Club:
    FC Dynamo Kyiv
    Country:
    Ukraine
    I suspect that FIFA would not allow two independent leagues to play in the same "country". And, I also suspect, FIFA has no jurisdiction in this matter and neither does UEFA. So, you would need to see what Asian confederation's bylaws state about this.

    There is also a big difference between Crimea and the West Bank. Crimea is a part of Ukraine (a legitimate state) occupied by Russia (a legitimate state). West Bank, at the moment of its occupation by Israel in 1967 was a part of the territory that wasn't a part of a legitimate state. Come to think of it, it probably isn't today.

    Do we know in what competition Kashmir clubs play (if they exist)?
     
  18. Nico Limmat

    Nico Limmat Moderator
    Staff Member

    Oct 24, 1999
    Dubai, UAE
    Club:
    Grasshopper Club Zürich
    Country:
    Switzerland
    As I mentioned, this would be an unofficial league with no ties whatsoever to the Israeli FA. This league would be outside organised football under FIFA, UEFA and the AFC. Just like the Crimean league founded in 2015. This is probably the best "compromise" out there. The clubs continue their existence (and provide playing opportunities) but don't violate the jurisdiction of the Palestinian FA.
    The recognition of statehood is a political discussion that I am not interested in having here. We are strictly talking about football regulations. As full fledged FIFA members the Palestinian FA is entitled to the consistent application of all FIFA regulations. When FIFA admitted Palestine in 1998 it would have had to recognize the internationally drawn borders around the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. Logical thought allows no other conclusion.
     
    edcalvi repped this.
  19. EvanJ

    EvanJ Member+

    Manchester United
    United States
    Mar 30, 2004
    Nassau County, NY
    Club:
    Manchester United FC
    Country:
    United States
    Would it be any different than two leagues like MLS and NASL that do not have promotion and relegation?
     
  20. goliath74

    goliath74 Member

    May 24, 2006
    Aventura, FL, United States
    Club:
    FC Dynamo Kyiv
    Country:
    Ukraine
    While those two leagues have no promotion and relegation, MLS is considered the top league and NASL - the second division. And both are represented by the US Federation.
     
  21. goliath74

    goliath74 Member

    May 24, 2006
    Aventura, FL, United States
    Club:
    FC Dynamo Kyiv
    Country:
    Ukraine
    #21 goliath74, Sep 5, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2016
    Actually, it is not "the best compromise". Crimean "clubs" do not have any interest to play in Ukraine. Jewish clubs in Palestine do want to play in the competitions under the Israeli FA umbrella. Russian FA insists that Crimea is a Russian territory (although Ukraine and I both disagree). Israelis recognize West Bank as an occupied territory whose borders are not very well defined. All five clubs fall outside of the zones "A" and "B" that have a varying degree of Palestinian Authority's control. According to the Oslo Accord, the zone "C" were to retain a significant amount of Israeli control. That is where all those 5 Israeli clubs are located. I do not think we can have a footballing discussion here separate from the political discussion.

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  22. Nico Limmat

    Nico Limmat Moderator
    Staff Member

    Oct 24, 1999
    Dubai, UAE
    Club:
    Grasshopper Club Zürich
    Country:
    Switzerland
    Ok, what do you propose?
    I'm still not sure what distinction you are trying to draw. Both scenarios deal with annexed land. The bottom line is Israel feels entitled to at least some of the land in the West Bank (as defined by the 1967 borders). A notion largely rejected globally.
    Agreed that politics can not be completely separated but let's keep morality out of it.

    Are you proposing Zone "C" to fall under jurisdiction of the Israeli FA? As for the Oslo accord, administrative control does not equal recognized annexation. If FIFA were to decide to hand Zone "C" to the IFA it would a radical departure from the international consensus on the borders. I'm quite certain taking such a controversial decision is the last thing FIFA wants to do. And that brings us back to my original point. If it's not Israeli land it must be Palestinian. Hence the PFA has jurisdiction over land defined by the 1967 borders.
     
  23. goliath74

    goliath74 Member

    May 24, 2006
    Aventura, FL, United States
    Club:
    FC Dynamo Kyiv
    Country:
    Ukraine
    Keep things the way they are.

    According to Oslo accords, zone "C" remains under Israeli control. Does it mean that Israel retains full control over it? Yes. Does it mean that it becomes a part of Israel? I am not sure. So, why not have clubs based in zone "C" represent Israel?

    Secondly, and most importantly, UEFA and FIFA have already engaged themselves in the controversial decisions before - one of them is actually having to do with Israel and its participation in the UEFA rather than in Asian confederation. So, when there is a will, there is a way. And, keeping in mind what Oslo Accords suggest about the zone "C", it is not that much of a stretch any more.

    And as far as comparison to Crimea - international community is not recognizing Russia's annexation of Crimea. Judging by Oslo Accords, zone "C" of the West Bank could be a way international community recognizes that part of West Bank as Israel's.
     
  24. Nico Limmat

    Nico Limmat Moderator
    Staff Member

    Oct 24, 1999
    Dubai, UAE
    Club:
    Grasshopper Club Zürich
    Country:
    Switzerland
    Not going to happen if the PFA continues to pursue this. Eventually someone will have to take a decision. Be it the FIFA Council, FIFA Congress or the CAS. And I am willing to bet cold hard cash it won't be in the IFA's favor. Even if somehow a view is adopted that Zone C is a sort of "no man's land" in sporting terms that would still mean no IFA affiliated clubs can play there.
    So you want to have IFA affiliated clubs in Zone C in spite of "not being sure" whether it is Israeli land? Why would FIFA go along with this again?
    Not exactly relevant, but I fail to see the controversy. The decision to host Israel in UEFA made all the sense in the world due to security concerns. But yes, generally speaking there is plenty of controversy around FIFA these days. Therefore I see no desire whatsoever to officially re-align Zone C to the IFA.
    With all due respect, that involves a heavy dose of wishful thinking. The (now very dated) Oslo accords can in no way be construed as international recognition of the annexation of Zone C in the West Bank. I honestly fail to see how anyone can argue otherwise. Even Israel's closest allies are highly critical of the settlements in the West Bank. To date over 130 countries have recognized Palestine. A number that keeps growing. If said nations have taken that calculated step I am very confident in saying that it does not exclude Zone C. Instead the 1967 borders are the main point of reference.
     
  25. goliath74

    goliath74 Member

    May 24, 2006
    Aventura, FL, United States
    Club:
    FC Dynamo Kyiv
    Country:
    Ukraine
    I do not see how FIFA's decision will trample UEFA's. UEFA's a real power broker here and, I suspect, they would still accept Zone "C" clubs in the Israeli league. Does FIFA want a confrontation with the UEFA? I don't think so.

    At this point even Palestinian state's future is uncertain. I think we can be relatively certain that Israel will control a significant portion of the Zone "C" after the smoke clears. Will be a part of Israel proper or a land with some special status - I have no clue.

    This would be no less controversial than having 100% Jewish settlements that are located in Zone "C" play in the Jewish league of the Jewish homeland. Zone "C" is actually geographically contiguous to the rest of Israel. Israel does not even share any border with any European nation. I think the decisions would have actually be similar and logical.

    Zone C will not be a part of any Palestinian state. That is just reality and not wishful thinking. not a single constructive proposal has been offered that does not include at least the most populous portions of Zone "C" within Israel. And, by the way, most European nations had supported the oslo Accords. No reason to believe they wouldn't today.
     

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