Several Israeli football clubs currently operate out of illegal settlements in the Occupied West Bank. They participate freely in the leagues and competitions of the Israel Football Association (IFA). This intolerable situation contravenes both international law and the Statutes of FIFA by which global football is governed.
For the past 17 months the Palestinian Football Association (PFA) has been demanding that the settlement-based clubs should be banned from all IFA leagues and competitions. Now the FIFA-led negotiations on the issue are coming to a head, with a proposal due to be presented to the FIFA Council on 13-14 October.
Worryingly, the man appointed to lead the negotiations - the South African businessman and former ANC minister Tokyo Sexwale - has described the Occupied Territories as "disputed areas". This choice of words echoes the term "disputed territories", commonly used by Israel to indicate its refusal to accept that it is an occupying power with attendant human rights obligations. Campaigners are speculating that this may herald a proposal to the FIFA Council favouring the Israeli position.
On the other hand, in April of this year FIFA placed a new commitment to promoting human rights at the heart of its Statutes. This should make it that much easier for Palestine's friends around the world to raise the issue of football-related abuses of Palestinian human rights with FIFA.
And, as Israeli settlement expansion accelerates, two Palestinian villages featured in a recent FIFA publicity video have found themselves at the heart of the international controversy surrounding Israel's policy of house demolition in the Occupied Territories. At Umm Al Khair 27 people were made homeless on 9th August when the village was targeted for house demolitions for the ninth time - eliciting protests from France and the US State Department. And as neighbouring Susiya faces the imminent demolition of 40% of its houses, US diplomats visited the village on 10th August to voice their concern.
Clearly, there has never been a more important time to lobby FIFA on the subject of Israeli settlement-based football clubs. Red Card Israeli Racism is supporting the PFA position, and calling for a complete ban on settlement-based clubs on pain of the suspension of Israel's FIFA membership. We believe that the best course of action is to go above Mr Sexwale's head, and make an appeal directly to the new President of FIFA, Gianni Infantino.
Will you add your voice to those calling for FIFA to insist that the IFA bans settlement-based clubs from its leagues and competitions? Please send the model letter below to President Infantino. If you wish to personalise it by changing the wording, feel free – but please be polite!