The 65th annual FIFA Congress met in Switzerland Friday, and will decide, among other issues, whether to heed the Palestinian Authority's (PA) intransigent demands to oust Israel from world soccer over security issues.
The PA, which has been a FIFA member since 1998, wants the governing body to expel Israel over its restrictions on the movement of Palestinian Arab players – the same restrictions imposed on all PA residents so as to combat the terror threats.
The vote needs a two thirds majority of the 209 members to succeed, or 156 votes; all 209 are currently present at the Congress.
As of 11:22am IST, the agenda over the PA bid has been presented; 99% voted to proceed.
During the proceedings, a group of pro-Palestinian activists broke into the hall, shouting "boycott Israel, stop apartheid, Red Card to FIFA." They were removed from the hall after throwing red cards at the Israeli delegation.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter noted in his address that the organization is facing "trying times," perhaps talking about the corruption scandal which erupted separate to the controversial Palestinian Arab vote earlier this week. Blatter called to "try to lift our spirits" and not to "let the reputation of FIFA and football be dragged through the mud." He also justified that the organization "cannot constantly monitor" everyone in world soccer, some 1.6 billion people.
"Outside the pitches, there are no limits," he claimed. "There are no time limits and no referees."
Blatter's comments beg the question of whether the organization could meddle into international affairs in general, minutes before the precedent-setting vote.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Opposition leader Yitzhak Herzog (Labor), and Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid have each spoken strongly against the vote over the past 24 hours, warning that such a vote would set a precedent for the sports organization to make decisions based on global politics and regional security issues.
Critics have noted that FIFA is hosting the 2022 World Cup in Qatar in December of that year, despite its numerous human rights violations and a host of security issues for all players involved; it also has not intervened in the soccer potential for other human rights violators, such as Saudi Arabia or Iran.