FIFA Head: Netanyahu Agreed to Israel-‘Palestine’ Soccer Match

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has agreed in principle that Israel's national soccer team will hold a friendly match with "Palestine" at some point in the future, according to FIFA President Sepp Blatter.

Speaking to journalists after a meeting with the Israeli PM, Blatted said: "The will is there to organize a football match for peace between the two teams."

But no date or timeline was set for the match, with an agreement only that it would happen at some point "in future," Blatter said.

At the start of the meeting, Netanyahu had blasted the Palestinian Authority's attempts to "politicize" football, by using it as a weapon to attack Israel diplomatically.

"Sport is a vehicle of goodwill among nations. The thing that could destroy the Football Association is politicizing it," said Netanyahu.

"You politicize it once with Israel, then you politicize it for everyone, and it will cause the deterioration of a great institution. I know you understand this."

The PM also told Blatter Israel would be taking measures to ease security restrictions on PA-based footballers.

Blatter's meeting with Netanyahu followed talks with Israel Football Association chief Rotem Kamer earlier Tuesday, who branded Palestinian Authority efforts to oust Israel from FIFA as "cynical" and counter to the spirit of sport, said that the Palestinian demand had "nothing to do with sports".

"We see it as a clear mix of politics and football, something which should not find a place in the FIFA Congress," he told reporters. "We believe football in our region should be used as a bridge between people." 

Meanwhile, senior PA official and head of the "Palestine Football Association (PFA) Jibril Rajoub rejected Kamer's criticism, claiming the demand to expel Israel was "nothing related to politics".

"The suspension of Israel is not our target, our target is to help the Palestinian athletes to move," Rajoub told reporters in Ramallah, speaking in English.  

Rajoub said he had met with former Israeli president Shimon Peres on the matter "six times" but they failed to resolve the issue.  

"We (will) never accept a compromise. There is no deal outside of FIFA," he said.

The PA, which has been a member of FIFA since 1998, wants it to bar Israel from international competition to punish it for security restrictions placed on the movement of PA players – the same restrictions levied against all PA residents. 

It also opposes the participation in the Israeli league of five clubs located in Jewish communities in Judea-Samaria.

The motion will need a three quarters majority to be passed at the FIFA Congress in Zurich.


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