Sunday, October 21, 2018

Palestine’s Bid to Join the International Football Association FIFA 1945 - 1998


Issam Khalidi

      Throughout different historical stages Palestinians sought through football a sense of national identity, independence and world recognition. In 1998 Palestine joined the International Football Association FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association).  This success was a result of the ongoing efforts which Palestine waged on the international field for more than half a century since 1940’s until 1990’s. It gave Palestine a significant opportunity to be presented as an independent nation, and to be integrated in the international community. Since 1998, Palestine started to take part in the World Cup qualifiers. In November 1917, Palestine’s FIFA ranking was 73, comparing to 185 in 1998.[1]
  After 1998, FIFA made an enormous support to the PFA; it included the constructions of numerous sports facilities (such as the Faisal al-Husseini Stadium in al-Ram near Jerusalem), training courses for coaches and referees, etc. However, today unfortunately FIFA refused to impose sanctions over six teams playing in the Israeli league, which are based in Israeli settlements in the West Bank. This despite the international community considers all Israeli settlements in the West Bank illegal. [2] Israel is a member of UEFA. According to UEFA (Union of European Football Association) statutes, ‘a Member Association, or its affiliated leagues and clubs, may neither play nor organize matches outside its own territory without the permission of the relevant Member Associations.’ [3] Accordingly, UEFA and FIFA prohibited the participation of football clubs from Crimea in the Russian league in 2014. Yet UEFA and FIFA have so far failed to apply the same rule to Israeli settlement clubs. [4]

   There are still many obstacles to surmount, Palestine’s participation in the international competition is no longer questioned. Palestine becoming a member of FIFA and participating in World Cup qualifications (as well as in other international tournaments such as Olympic Games) was the culmination of relentless efforts over many years by Palestinian athletes, administrators and activists and their international allies. They had to overcome lack of funds and training facilities, Israeli blockades, restrictions and bombings. The achievement was reached after a long process that mirrored Palestinian efforts to be regarded as a sovereign nation and take its rightful place in international sporting events as well as in other international realms. What were the obstacles facing the Palestinian and how were they overcome? How does a nation forced by historical events to exist without an independent state assume today its rightful place on the world sport stage? These are the questions to be examined in the analysis at the history of Palestine and FIFA, from early efforts during the 1920s and up until today’s participation.
At this point, it is relevant to examine how a nation becomes a member of the FIFA and the various criteria applied when considering membership. Another area of political contention centered on the issue of what countries may be members of FIFA.
  As international law scholar Akehurst notes, there is general agreement in the international community that an independent state must possess certain characteristics in order to be internationally recognized. These include a determinable territory; a fixed population; a functioning government and the capacity to enter into relations with other states. [5] Fellow legal scholar Francis A. Boyle has studied Palestinian claims for statehood and concluded that these criteria are met, despite the special circumstances of Palestinian history, and that the United Nation Charter article 80 and league Covenant article 22 (section 4) substantiate this. [6]
  The FIFA includes that any Association which is responsible for organizing and supervising football in its country may become a Member of FIFA.[7] Consequently, it is recommended that all Members of FIFA involve all relevant stakeholders in football in their own structure.[8] Thus, although membership in FIFA is technically not based on statehood, the process is based on statehood and defers to recognized national organizations. Consequently, unrecognized secessionist entities such as South Ossetia and Nagorno Karabakh have no real chance of having their football associations become part of a confederation, let alone FIFA.[9]
   While the United Nations has 192 members, FIFA (the governing body of football) has 208 [sic. 209] members.  One reason for the disparity in these figures is that FIFA allows some regions with special political circumstances to play alongside other “de jour” recognized states in the world.  One example of this is Palestine.   What is most important is that the continued participation of the national team helps to retain a sense of national identity amongst Palestinians and gives them a positive cause to celebrate. Secondly, football, especially at the youth level, also provides a mechanism for peaceful interaction with their Israeli neighbors, which could potentially help to build bridges between the two communities and to resolve the ongoing Middle East crisis.[10]
       Early Days
The history of Palestine’s march towards FIFA begins in 1924, when Palestine was under the British control. As a result of the Ottoman empire which ruled the Middle East for four centuries and the conquest of the land of Palestine by the British army, in the league of Nations granted Britain a mandate to administer the territory. In 1917, Britain gave colonial sanction to Zionism by issuing the Balfour Declaration in a form of a letter to Lord Rothschild (who presented Zionist interests for the occasion), in which the government undertook to "view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people."[11] There is no separating Balfour's ideology from that of Zionism, even though history and historical experience of, ideas about Palestine. For all their differences (and they were numerous), both the British imperialist and the Zionist vision are united in playing down and even canceling out the Arabs in Palestine as somehow secondary and negligible. Both raise the moral importance of the visions very far above the mere presence of natives on a piece of immensely significant territory.[12] This Declaration was the cornerstone of this cooperation which the British made as their basic ground to the ‘Judaization’ of Palestine.[13] A few years later, the British Mandate in Palestine cooperated with the Zionist settlers at the expense of the Palestinian Arabs. [14]
    Since the beginning of the Jewish immigration to Palestine Zionism saw in sport a way for achieving the dream of the “National Home”; a pivotal mean for promoting the Jewish national sentiments.  Since early 1910s the Zionists started establishing clubs such as the Maccabi. In 1925 the Maccabi World Organization was moved to Palestine. In 1926 the ha-Poel organization was established then followed by the Beitar headed by the Zionist revisionist Ze’ev Jabotinsky who struggled for state recognition. These organizations took sports as a cover for their political and paramilitary activities.
     In 1924, the leadership of the Jewish Maccabi Athletic Organization attempted to gain membership in the International Amateur Athletic Federation. According to FIFA’s rules, his initiative ended in failure, as it was determined that Maccabi did not represent Arab, British and Jewish sportsmen in Palestine equally. However, this unsuccessful attempt did not discourage Maccabi leader Josef Yekutieli, who in the early 1925 attempted to gain Maccabi membership in the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). Yekutieli decided to employ a different tactic this time -- he first established the Palestine Football Federation. [15]
    According to FIFA rules, only associations representing states could be accepted as members. Thus, Maccabi officials were compelled to invite not only their Zionist political adversary, ha-Po’el, but also Arab teams to join the Palestinian Football Association (PFA). Therefore, in addition to the fourteen Zionist representatives that participated in the first meeting of the new soccer-association directorate, one Arab delegate took part—a member of the Nusseibeh family (Ibrahim) representing the Arab Sports Club of Jerusalem. A member of the prominent.[16] However, despite his involvement in this first session, Nusseibeh’s name never again appeared in the directorate’s
[17]Nevertheless, during the first years of the PFA, Arab teams participated in the games of the Association. A report submitted to FIFA in 1929 describes three soccer divisions in Palestine: ten teams in the first, twenty in the second (five of them Arab), and thirty-nine in the third (six of them Arab). [18]
Later PFA adopted Zionism’s blue and white colours and dropped Arabic as one of its languages within three years of its founding. The Zionist anthem “Ha-Tikva” was played alongside Britain’s “God Save the King” at the start of official matches. The Palestine Olympic Committee followed a similar pattern with its nine members, seven of which were Jewish.
 The exploitation of PFA by the Jewish athletic officials and the continued marginalization of the Arabs was among the Zionist goals, especially after joining FIFA in June 1929; therefore, the Palestinians announced their dissatisfaction with the Jewish practices in seizing this Association. [19] The Association’s joining FIFA was a valuable opportunity for the sake of making the Jewish identity prominent and representing Palestine as a Jewish nation on the international level. With this the Jews, with the cooperation and support of the British, were able to represent Palestine as Jewish nation on the international level in the World Cup in both 1934 and 1938.  [20]
    Resulting from the gross transgressions by the Jews in the Palestinian Football Association and also resulting from the 1929 Revolt, many of the sporting leaders established the Arab Palestinian Sports Federation PSF or (Palestine Sport Association PSA) in April 1931. Because of the 1936 revolt, the activities of the PSF were hindered and PSF totally paralyzed at the end of the thirties. Few of its members joined the Jewish-oriented PFA. [21]
      The Jewish effort to solidify ties with the British as well as with other nations through soccer was boosted by Palestine’s admission in 1928 to world soccer body — FIFA. Within a decade of its founding, the PFA sought FIFA’s permission to play regional teams that were not members of the world body in a bid to strengthen Zionist ties with its non-Palestinian Arab neighbors as well as with British colonial teams in the Arab Middle East, and to obstruct Arab Palestinian teams, which it had alienated or excluded from the PFA, from competing with teams from other Arab counties.” [22]  To this end, the PFA in the mid-1930s used its authority as the national association to prevent Palestinian teams from playing neighboring Arab squads on the grounds that they were not members of the PFA.     
     In a letter sent on November 18, 1937 to the FIFA by Khader Kamal, Secretary of the Arab Sports Club in Jerusalem, it was mentioned that:
  Recognizing a Jewish team only, prejudice the Arab love of sports and exchanging visits with neighboring countries. If it is not possible to have our Club recognized by your association, we sincerely request that permission be granted to the teams of neighboring countries to play our team without the necessity of taking permission from the Palestine Football Federation. We have, before the introduction of the present regulations, often played against these teams, giving very good account of ourselves. At the present, we are playing against various British regiment teams in Palestine. In case you need any recommendation in evidence of our ability and conduct in Sports, we will be very glad to produce such certificates.[23]

    Since its re-establishment in September 1944, the Arab PSF strived to join FIFA.  In order to achieve this task, the PSF, since the beginning, strengthened its links with the football federations in the neighboring Arab countries.  The PSF gave the brotherly federations in these countries a detailed explanation of the sport conditions in Palestine, the conflict with the Zionist-dominated PFA. The desire of enrollment in FIFA came at a time of escalation in the conflict between the Arabs and the Jews.  Through this membership, the Palestinians wanted to prove that they were the real legitimate representative of Palestine and they constituted the majority in the country. 
   On March 15, 1945, the following excerpt appeared in the sports section of Filastin by Hussein Husni.[24] It was a message to the reader about the athletic conditions in Palestine and the domination by PFA on the sports arena. Husni asserts that this association must not be the representative of the Arab Palestinians this association (the PFA) does not represent anyone but itself and its community, and not the Arab-Palestinian people.[25]
   The issue of the PSF’s application was discussed at the FIFA conference in Luxemburg in August 1946.    All of the facts confirm that, prior to 1948 there were some 65 social athletic clubs in Palestine.  Approximately 55 of them were members of the Arab Palestine Sports Federation, which was established in 1931, and re-established in 1944; this included athletic clubs from all over Palestine.[26] At this conference, the Lebanese representative made it clear that the PSF included the sixty Arab clubs in Palestine.  He also made it clear that FIFA’s two main tasks are as follows: its concern about the good relationship with all the member countries, and the pursuit to allow every official party that practices football to join FIFA.  The formation of two associations in Palestine, and the recognition of the government in them, is nothing but resentment between the parties.  It’s a result of the political conditions in the country.  The tenseness between the Arabs and the Jews led to the lack of connections in sports between the Arab Sport Association and the PFA.  He added that when some of the clubs tried to join the PFA, they failed because of the political conflict between the two peoples.  He also mentioned that these conditions resulted in sanctions by the Arab football associations in Egypt, Syria, and Lebanon against the Jewish association (PFA).  Therefore, it is required from FIFA to find a solution to the sport condition in Palestine.[27]

   In August 1946, the secretary of the PSF received a letter from FIFA saying that FIFA had reviewed the application of the entry of the PSF in FIFA in its meeting in Luxemburg.  FIFA decided to form a committee for reviewing this matter from all its aspects so this committee could later provide its recommendations to the executive committee.
   Later, during a personal communication between Khalil Hilmi, the Lebanese representative, and FIFA’s president, the latter showed intent to agree on every application he receives concerning the games involving the Arab teams in Palestine.  In the conference, which was held in Glasgow on May 10th, 1947, it was decided to discuss the enrolment of Palestine in FIFA.  However, the final decision was that the Arabs and the Jews have to cooperate together, because it is hard to recognize two committees from one country at the same time.[28]  
“………The statutes and the regulations of the FIFA are formal: On a given territory there can only be one body directing all the football matches that take place on that territory……One cannot allow two federations to exist on this territory as long as on this territory there are not two distinct political entities.”[29]
   The Zionist-dominated PFA was not pleased with the decisions made at FIFA’s Luxembourg and Glasgow conferences.[30] It is necessary to state that, because of the efforts made by the PSF to join FIFA, FIFA's language with the Arabs had  become more benign.  FIFA recognized the organizational efficiency of the PSF, and realized the variety of its sports activities. [31]

   Some 750,000 Palestinians were forcibly uprooted from their native towns and villages during the Nakba (catastrophe) of 1948. Sports infrastructure was totaly destroyed. Abdel-Rahman al-Habbab secretary of PSF moved to Jordan. PSF continued to exist after 1948. Habbab sought to reapply for the affiliation of PSF with FIFA[32] In a letter to FIFA in March 1951 it explained that twenty-one clubs have so far registered in this federation, and have twelve football fields at its disposal most of which were fenced and have international dimensions. [33]
    No further information about this application was mentioned, however, obviously the application was rejected by FIFA.
  At that time few Palestinian clubs joined the Jordan Football Association (JFA) where Al-Habbab became its president in 1956. Clubs in the West Bank such as Nadi al-Muwathafeen (Club of Employees) in Jerusalem and Shabab al-Khalil (Youth of Hebron) took part in the tournaments of JFA. 
   In 1951 the West Bank was annexed to Jordan, and Gaza Sector to Egypt. In the 1950s and 1960s, football in Gaza reached a reasonable level. Gaza Sector witnessed a rapid growth in sports. A solid organizational infrastructure was developed which its effects still exist until this day. The Egyptian administration established the “Regional Committee for Youth Care,” which was headed by the General Governor, and included 25 members, most of whom were sports leaders. The Supreme Committee of Youth in Cairo supported this regional committee financially and technically. Proudly, Palestinians in Gaza Sector could represent Palestine in the international arena. [34]
     In 1962, the athletic leadership decided to form a football association [al-Ittihad al-Riyadi al-Falastini li Korat al-Qadam] (Palestine Sports Federation - Football). [35]  The clubs affiliated to the Federation were 15 in number.  Three other Federations in Palestine have been accepted in their respective Federations, name Boxing, Weightlifting and Basketball.[36] In August 1963 it applied to join FIFA.
        Later PFA had been informed that its request for affiliation to FIFA will be submitted to the Executive Committee at their meeting of October 6th, 1964 in Tokyo.  Accordingly, it had delegated three representatives to attend this meeting in Tokyo.  In spite of the high expenses occurred for the travel of its representatives to Tokyo, they were faced with the fact that their request for affiliation to FIFA was not enrolled on the agenda. [37]
    FIFA considered that the status of the Gaza Sector was the main obstacle in the registration of the PFA.  On 2nd of December, FIFA informed the UN in Geneva that the Palestine Sports Football Federation, with Headquarters in Gaza, has requested affiliation with FIFA, and inquired of the UN the legal status of Gaza. The latter responded that it was concerned the status of Gaza is governed by the Egyptian-Israeli General Armistice Agreement, signed at Rhodes on 24 February 1949.  Under this General Armistice Agreement Gaza is a “territory under the control” of Egypt (then the United Arab Republic).  The Agreement specifically provides that it is not intended to prejudice the rights, claims or interests of a non-military character in the area of Palestine.While Israel has taken the position that the General Armistice Agreement with Egypt is no longer in force, the United Arab Republic and the United Nations do not accept this view.  In any event, Gaza remains “territory under the control” of the United Arab Republic and for which the UAR is internationally responsible.  If you should wish for which the UAR is internationally responsible.”[38] 

Later PFA received a letter from FIFA dated 24 December, 1964:
   With reference to previous correspondence I would like to inform you that one difficulty has arisen, that is to know the exact status of your country.  As soon as UNO [United Nations Organization] answers our question we hope to be able to submit your application to the competent committee but this will not be before the end of February 1965.  If you are able to let us know your exact political status would you please be so kind as to write to us again.[39]
   On the 28th of May, 1965, the PFA received a telegram from FIFA informing it about the rejection of its application: We firmly object exepting [sic. accepting] a District called Gaza as a member of FIFA.  There is no country called Palestine, therefore Gaza cannot be in Palestine.  The exeptance [sic. acceptance] of a part of a country as an independent member is contrary to the FIFA regulations.  Later, Elias Manneh gave a brief historical explanation about the status of Gaza, and refuted the claims that Gaza was a “territory under control” of Egypt.14   FIFA responded that it was not ignorant of the historical facts the PFA mentioned but did not wish to enter into arguments of a political nature. [40]

1965 - 1993 
 The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in May 1964.  It is recognized as the "sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.”  Despite that, the PLO created, and founded, a number of organizations which fulfilled the demands of the Palestinian people.  However, in its resolutions, nothing was found mentioning sports or physical education, except what was mentioned in the session of the National Council in 1968 when a section called “popular organization” [al-Tanzim al-Sha’bi] was established aimed to organize social and cultural affairs.
   Political conditions in these countries where Palestinian refugees lived, and the relations between the regimes, and the PLO, had their impacts on sports and football.  In 1968, a decision was made by the PLO to form the Palestine Supreme Council for Youth Care SCYC.  In 1969, few branch committees were established in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qattar, and the United Arab Emirates.  After 1970, SCYC headquarters was moved from Amman to Lebanon.  A new supreme council was formed from qualified Palestinian athletic leaders in Lebanon.  The council started to remove the impacts of the war; new clubs were founded in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq. Athletic and scouts’ activities started to rise.
   The first conference of SCYC was held in Beirut in Suq al-Gharb in 1974 (later it was changed to Palestine Supreme Council for Youth and Sports SCYS).  New executive committee members were elected at this conference. No other conference was held after that, due to the political conditions and the transfer of the headquarters from Beirut to Tunisia in 1982.  This was similar to the other popular institutions, which also suffered weakness and failures for the same reasons.[41]
Palestine Football Association
   As was mentioned earlier, after the transfer of the Supreme Council headquarters from Jordan to Lebanon, the executive committee started to re-establish sport associations.  Palestine Football Association was re-established in 1971. The Palestine Football Association developed new rules which stipulated the admission of players in Palestinian clubs exclusively.  This resulted in alienating a few qualified players who were playing for first league Lebanese clubs from the Palestinian national team.  Most of the formations of the national team were from Palestinian clubs members of the football association.  Also, the selection of the national team was subjected to favoritism; the administrators selected players who were members of the clubs that they ran. [42]
   As it was mentioned, the PFA had three attempts to join FIFA, but its applications were rejected.  In 1978, PFA once again submitted its application to FIFA.  The application was attached with all requirements, such as the PFA statutes. The PFA did not succeed in gaining the membership.  However, in 1979, PFA made another attempt, but its application was again hobbled by different obstacles, such as the refusal of the affiliation of the Palestine Olympic Committee with the IOC.  PFA continued its communication with the Arab Football Association (AFA), established in 1974 (Palestine joined AFA in 1974), which offered enormous support for the affiliation of PFA in FIFA.  In order to fulfill FIFA’s requirements, one of the Arab countries agreed to have the headquarters of PFA on its land in order to gain legal consent, and to have its own field where it could manage tournaments.  In 1989, PFA was able to get permission from the Iraqi Football Association, allowing it to have its headquarters in Baghdad. In addition, PFA started to hold its own tournament, on its own field, in this city.  PFA asked for support from the AFA to request from FIFA the affiliation of PFA.  However, it failed another time.  But, the PFA did not lose hope. In 1993, it applied again, depending on the new political conditions (ratification of the Oslo Agreement) and on the admission of the Palestine Olympic Committee in the IOC as observer.  Again, FIFA refused the application.

   On the 20th of November 1993, a letter from PFA to FIFA President Joao Havelange: 
For a long time, the Palestinian Football Federation has hoped to be affiliated to the Federation Internationale de Football Association. Football has always been played in Palestine, and our teams are known to be well trained and organized in the area. Prior to this date, our application for the affiliation into FIFA was not accepted, due to our status in the International Olympic Committee. On September 27th, 1993, we have become officially affiliated into the International Olympic Committee. The Palestinian Football Federation wished to be affiliated into FIFA, and become an active member, as soon as possible. 
     In May 1995, the PFA was granted the status of provisional member in FIFA.  Considering the prevailing situation regarding Palestine, the Executive Committee nevertheless made the following two restrictions: [43] First:    the Palestinian Football Federation may only play friendly matches. Second: the Palestinian Football Federation may only play these matches in the territory of another national association affiliated to FIFA (provided that the national association concerned gives their authorization). In June 1998, PFA was affiliated to FIFA as a full member at its 51st Ordinary Congress, held in Paris on June 8th 1998. [44] 

     This affiliation which came after four attempts, could be a historical step toward the statehood, it refuted the Israeli claims; such claims alleged that the Palestinians lack the ingredients to be represented in international organizations and associations. It became obvious, that the affiliation with the international organizations (such as FIFA, IOC and others) plowed the way for Palestine to become a non-member observer state in the United Nations in November 2012. In fact, this membership helped to improve PFA’s performance in many aspects; it accelerated the growth and progress of football in Palestine and gave the Palestinian national team a chance to participate in the international arena.  
  Believing that Palestinians deserve to live and practice a normal daily life, in one on his visits to Palestine FIFA's former president Sepp Blatter said that "Youngsters across the region need to have the opportunity to play football. It can build bridges, bring young people in the region together, and give them hope."[45] It is clear that the politics of FIFA are moving away from the kind of support that former FIFA president had displayed toward Palestinians.[46]

   Recently, sports have begun to play a small but steadily increasing role in the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement that targets Israel for its ongoing violations of international law and Palestinian human rights. Now, there is a pressure on FIFA to act over the presences of Israeli soccer clubs in the illegal West Bank settlements.   Early calls for such action were  initially highlighted by the Palestine Football Association (PFA), though with little organizational and institutional support these calls gained little traction. Since 2016 however, this issue has become a focal point due to the independent efforts of BDS  groups and civil society more broadly. [47]

Issam Khalidi, an independent scholar living in San Francisco, California, is author of ‘History of Sports in Palestine 1900-1948’ in Arabic, ‘One Hundred Years of Football in Palestine’ in Arabic and English, Soccer in the Middle East (edited), as well as various articles on the subject included at

[1]Daily Sabah Football, Palestine Surpasses Israel in FIFA Ranking for the First Time, November 23, 2017. 
[2] Issam Khalidi, Laisa lil Riyada Ilaqa bil-Siyasa … Bid’a Sahioniyya ,
[4] Ibid
[5] M. Aehurst, A Modern Instruction to International Law (London: Routledge, 1987), cited in Francis A. Boyle, Palestine, Palestinians, and International Law (Altanta: Clarity Press, 2003), 31.
[6] Francis Boyle, Palestine, Palestinians, and International Law, 2003, p. 31.
[8] Chris Borgen, For Unrecognized Entities and Would-Be States, the World Cup is Already Over
[9] Ibid,
[10] Glen M. E. Duerr. “Playing for Identity and Independence: Palestinian Statehood and the Role of FIFA.”
[11] Edward Said, The Question of Palestine (New York: Vintage Books, 1980), p. 18.
[12] Edward Said, The Question of Palestine, 15.
[13] Encyclopedia of Palestine:  Britain and the Palestinian Question.
[14]Abdel-Wahab Elmessiri, The Land of Promise, (New Brunswick, New Jersey: North American, 1977), p. 37.
[15] Kaufman, Haim. “Jewish Sports in the Diaspora, Yishuv, and Israel: Between Nationalism and Politics”. Israel Studies - Volume 10, Number 2, Summer 2005, pp. 147-167.
[16] A member of the prominent (in politics and culture) Nusseibeh family whose roots in the holy city date back to the seventh century and who serve as custodians of the keys to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, his standing in the Palestinian community helped confer a measure of legitimacy on the committee.
[17] Sorek, Tamer. “Palestinian Nationalism has left the field: A Shortened History of Arab Soccer in Israel.” International Journal of Middle East Studies – 35, (2003).
[18] The following article (Football in Palestine: World’s Football) appeared in the official Bulletin of the Federation Internationale De Football Association, 1931 28th January. It was written by Joseph Yekutieli (President of the Maccabi Sport Federation) and Percy C. Speed.
[19] Issam Khalidi, “Sports and Aspirations: Football in Palestine 1900-948,” Jerusalem Quarterly 58, (2014), 74-89
[20] Ibid
[21] Ibid
[22] Ibid
[23] FIFA, Archive
[24] Hussein Husni, an Egyptian teacher of physical education came to Palestine in early 1930s, he taught in few schools, among them [Rawdat al-Ma’aref] in Jerusalem. He was a member of the track and field committee, which was affiliated with the Palestine Sport Federation. He enthusiastically wrote for the sport column of Filastin. His articles were characterized with nationalistic traits, while at the same time he tried to stimulate the physical activity of the citizens.
[25] The translation was quoted from Tamer Sorek’s article “Palestinian Nationalism has left the field: A shortened history of Arab Football in Israel”.  Middle East Studies, No. 35, (2003), 417- 437.
[26] Issam Khalidi, “Body and Ideology: Early Athletics in Palestine: 1900-1948,” Jerusalem Quarterly 27 (2007): 44-58.
[27] Difa’, 22 August 1946.
[28] Due to the scarcity of the sources, the only three sources that the author relied on were Filastin, Difa and the Memorandum of the PSA to the FIFA.
[29] FIFA Archive May 5th, 1948. Rodolphe William Seeldrayers, from Belguim, was the 4th President of FIFA, serving from 1954 to 1955. Arthur Drewry, from England, was the 5th President of FIFA, serving from 1955 to 1961. This decision made by the Congress of Luxembourg, Mr. Seeldrayers and Mr. A. Drewry were designated by the Executive Committee to draft a report on the Palestine question. This report was submitted to the Executive Committee during its meeting in Glasgow, dated May, 9-10th 1947 and approved by the Committee. The text was published in French.
[30] A letter to FIFA dated on May 5th 1948: At the same time, we beg to call your attention to the fact that we have instructed our delegates to oppose the conclusions arrived at by Messrs. R. W. Seeldrayers and A. Drewry, which were confirmed by your Executive at the meeting in Glasgow on the 9th May 1947. In fact, we cannot understand how you could accept such proposals, which are contrary to the statute of the F.I.F.A and cannot be reconciled with the decisions taken in the question of Palestine Football at the last Congress in Luxemburg. We can only presume; that the facts and arguments, laid before you, were quite insufficient in order to obtain an impartial picture of the situation, the more that – strange enough – we as the most interested party had no opportunity to make our contribution.
[31] Issam Khalidi, 'One Hundred Years of Football in Palestine', (Amman: Dar al-Shorook, 2013). 
[32] In order to be affiliated with FIFA, a country must have at least five federations affiliated with international federations. Palestinians in Sector Gaza founded few sports associations and applied for their membership with international federations. 
[33] FIFA Archive.  This letter was sent by the Football Committee which was affiliated to the PSA [al-Ittihad al-Riyadi al-Falastini – Lajnat Kurat al-Qadam].  At the same time a letter by Abdel Rahman al-Habbab the secretary of the PFA was sent to the FIFA informing it that the functions and authorities of the General Secretary have been transferred to Mr. Ahmad Z. Afifi, who was the duly authorized person to represent, communicate and sign on behalf of the Federation.
[34] FIFA Archive, Zurich, December 2012.
[35] The President was Subhi Farah, the vice president – Ishaq Nashashibi, Secretary Elias Manneh, treasurer – Abdel Qader Judeh and Yihya Asharif – member. 
[36] FIFA Archive, Zurich, December 2012.
[37] FIFA Archive, 23 November, 1964.
[38] FIFA Archive, Zurich, December 2012.
[39] FIFA Archive, Zurich, December 2012.
[40] FIFA’s Archive, February10th, 1966.
[41] The Supreme Council participated in youth conferences in Arab countries which emerged from the Arab League.  These conferences provided help for the Supreme Council to seek membership in different international athletic organizations.  In 1969, it participated in the first conference of Arab ministers of sport and youth which was held in Cairo.  The Palestinian delegation got recommendations that were directed to support the Palestinian youth in the Diaspora.  The conference offered big support to the Palestinian teams for developing their activities in all Arabic countries.  The conference also agreed to offer opportunities to the Palestinian youth to represent themselves in all athletic occasions.  The structure of Palestinian sports took hierarchal shape; on the top of the list was the Supreme Council, followed by the Conference, Executive Office, Central Committee, Olympic Committee, sport associations (including the football association), Scouts Organization, Public Commission, and the Committee of Social Activities and Youth Centers. The sports associations were managed by the club leaders from one side, and by the branch associations (except the branch council) in Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Qatar, and United Arab Emirates on the other.  Some of these associations were established in the 1960s in Gaza, such as table tennis and basketball, which were recognized internationally in mid-sixties.
[42] After the move of the Palestinian militias to Tunis, the headquarters of PFA moved to Syria and then to the Tunisian capital Tunis.
[43] FIFA’s Archive, “Letter from FIFA to Palestine Football Federation.” June 1st, 1995.
[44] Minutes of the 51st Ordinary Congress, held at the Equinox Hall, Paris, France, 7 June 1998 at 16.00 hours, 8 June 1998 at 09.30 hours. The Deputy General Secretary said that it had been decided at meeting no. 11 of the Executive Committee in Zurich on 27 May 1998 to propose to the Congress that full FIFA membership be granted to the following national associations, in compliance with the statutory provisions regarding the admission of national associations applying for membership (articles 3 to 5 of the Statutes and 1 to 3 of the Regulations governing the Application of the Statutes).

[45] FIFA.  ‘Palestine Battling for the Development of Football’, posted September 22, 2010.
[46] Daoud Kuttab, FIFA Red Card Palestinian Soccer Leader, August 31 2018.
[47]  Aubrey Bloomfield, Sport and the Palestinian BDS Struggle, February 14 2017.




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