The petition echoes previous calls by Palestinians to suspend Israel’s membership in global sporting organisations for killing Palestinian footballers and destroying sports facilities in Gaza.
More than 23,560 people have signed an online petition urging FIFA to ban Israel’s membership from the global sporting body in response to the occupation forces’ killings of Palestinian footballers and destruction of sports facilities in Gaza.
Created by 4Sports Kuwait, the petition has called out Israel’s violations of sports in Gaza under the ongoing genocide, which has killed at least 23,357 Palestinians within nearly 100 days.
The toll includes about 88 athletes from various Palestinian teams, including 67 footballers. The latest victim was Hani Al-Masdar, the coach of Palestine’s Olympic football team. Israel killed the prominent sporting figure on January 6.
“Israel destroyed a football stadium in Gaza, and has killed football players and coaches. If you agree that Israel must face consequences for killing Palestinian players and coaches as well as destroying a stadium, sign the petition and share it with everyone you know, to put pressure on FIFA to ban Israel!” 4Sports Kuwait’s petition page says.
European bottom-up movement, DiEM25 launched a similar petition on Monday calling for Israel’s suspension from global sports “until it fully complies with international law and sports regulations.”
“The International Olympic Committee, FIFA, UEFA, FIBA, and other sports organisations are complicit as they allow a continuous participation of the occupying apartheid regime in their events,” the petition says.
The petitions echo previous calls by Palestinians to suspend Israel’s membership in global sporting organisations, describing the absence of action as “a green light for Israel to continue its genocide against Palestinians.”
On December 6, the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement called for pressuring FIFA until it respects Palestinians’ rights, accusing the organisation of ignoring such calls “for years.”
BDS has listed a wide range of violations committed by the Israeli Football Association (IFA), including playing matches in illegal settlements.
“There are no excuses for international forums, sporting and non-sporting, not to expel Israel. The failure of these forums to hold Israel accountable for its crimes reveals more than before the extent of the dominance of the Western colonial powers,” BDS said.
The Israeli destruction of sports life in Palestine comes under its wider efforts to isolate Palestinians from the rest of the world by hindering their participation in sporting events.
Palestinian footballers often struggle to find locations to play matches due to the destruction of facilities across Palestinian lands by Israeli forces.
Palestinian players also struggle to meet for practice as they would require Israeli permits to pass through Israeli checkpoints. In 2019, Israel cancelled the FIFA Palestine Cup by denying Gazan players travel permits.
Israel’s restrictions on the movement of Palestinians are highly repressive, with at least 700 obstacles placed around the West Bank and up to 140 checkpoints.
Israel has destroyed nine sports facilities, including four in the West Bank and five in Gaza, most notably the iconic Yarmouk Stadium, since the beginning of the war, according to the Palestinian Football Association (PFA).
Yarmouk was built in 1938 and is one of the oldest in Palestine.
In December, the occupation forces turned the stadium into a detention centre where dozens of Palestinians were rounded up and humiliated.
PFA had called on the International Olympic Committee, FIFA and AFC on December 27 to take “urgent measures” against the Israeli violations at the Yarmouk Stadium.
“In the latest example of Israeli fascism, the occupation showed us horrific images during its invasion of the Yarmouk Stadium in the Gaza Strip, and turned it into a detention centre where it abused and interrogated our people,” the PFA said in a statement at the time.
The Israeli occupation’s restrictions on Palestinian players are a violation of the Olympic Charter, which states that “the practice of sport is a human right.”
“Every individual must have access to the practice of sport, without discrimination of any kind in respect of internationally recognised human rights within the remit of the Olympic Movement,” the charter says.