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FIFA Congress to choose Women's World Cup host, Palestine FA urges Israel suspension

Soccer's world body FIFA convened its annual Congress on Friday, where it heard a Palestinian call for the suspension of Israel's football federation over the war in Gaza ahead of a vote to decide the host of the 2027 Women's World Cup.
Last Updated : 17 May 2024, 06:01 IST
Last Updated : 17 May 2024, 06:01 IST

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Soccer's world body FIFA convened its annual Congress on Friday, where it heard a Palestinian call for the suspension of Israel's football federation over the war in Gaza ahead of a vote to decide the host of the 2027 Women's World Cup.

The meeting in Bangkok brought together delegates of 211 member associations and is headlined by the vote on the host of the Women's World Cup, with Brazil up against the joint bid of Belgium, Netherlands and Germany (BNG).

The Congress heard a proposal by the Palestine Football Association (PFA) to suspend its Israel, accusing its football federation of multiple violations of FIFA statutes, including over the Gaza conflict and the inclusion in Israeli leagues of teams located in Palestinian territory.

Since a Oct. 7 cross-border raid by Hamas-led gunmen that Israel says killed more than 1,200 people, the offensive in Gaza has left more than 35,000 Palestinians dead, according to Gaza health officials. Israel says its strikes are targeted at militants.

PFA president Jibril Rajoub urged the Congress to take a vote to suspend the Israel Football Association (IFA) from all football activity and to respect the Palestinian territory.

"FIFA cannot afford to remain indifferent to these violations or the ongoing genocide in Palestine," he said.

"I ask you to stand on the right side of history... If not now, when?"

His Israeli counterpart Shino Moshe Zuares said no rules had been broken and the proposal had nothing to do with football.

"Once again, we are facing a cynical political and hostile attempt by the PFA to harm Israel," he said.

"I am holding myself back ...in the hope things can be better for the game for those who play in Israel, the Palestinian authority and or those who play all over the world."

FIFA President Gianni Infantino said a legal assessment of the allegations made by the PFA would be undertaken urgently, with the FIFA Council convening an extraordinary Congress in late July to address the issue.

World Cup showdown

Brazil has never hosted the Women's World Cup but had a slight edge over its rival in a FIFA technical evaluation released last week, with a score of four out of five, verses the joint BNG bid's 3.7.

The race was whittled down to two last month after the United States and Mexico withdrew their joint bid to pursue the 2031 tournament instead.

The FIFA assessment scores each bid on criteria ranging from commercial viability, team facilities and accommodation, to broadcast sites, stadiums and fan festival venues.

The evaluation said Brazil's 10 stadiums were purpose-built and configured for major tournaments having hosted the 2014 men's World Cup and the bid had a strong commercial position and government commitment.

If successful, it would have a "tremendous impact" on women's football by being the first South American host, it said.

It highlighted the compact nature and support behind the Belgium-Netherlands-Germany bid, solid commercial viability, good infrastructure and short distances between venues, but also noted its 13 stadiums had smaller capacities.

Infantino in his opening remarks pledged to boost access to football worldwide and sought to end what he called a "futile debate" over the amount of high volume of matches being played.

He said FIFA was organising about 1% of club games and just 1% to 2% of national team matches, but was helping 70% of its members, which "would have no football without the resources" FIFA provides.

"I hope these figures will show that we should probably stop this futile debate, it's really pointless, and focus on what we need to do which is organise the best competitions and develop football around the world," he said.

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Published 17 May 2024, 06:01 IST

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