FIFA has announced that the Israeli Football Association (IFA) and the Palestinian Football Association (PFA) will meet to agree a “historic” memorandum of understanding in order to allow the movement of persons and goods for football purposes in and out of, and within Palestine.
The meeting will be staged in Jordan with a first report to be presented to the FIFA Executive Committee at its next meeting on October 3-4, with the process to be completed by the end of this year. The development came after the FIFA Task Force Israel-Palestine, comprising senior representatives from FIFA, the IFA, PFA, Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and UEFA, held its first meeting on Tuesday at FIFA headquarters in Zurich, under the chairmanship of FIFA president Sepp Blatter.
“At the start, I have to say it (the meeting) was very lively, I will not say any more, but at the end it was trust, and confidence, and football,” said Blatter, according to Reuters. “We have given responsibility to the two associations to work together but we will monitor the different steps (stages). The idea is that, at the end of the year, when we come together at the FIFA executive committee, we will have a solution of how to make it easier for footballers to move in the region. We can say today was historic… it was the first time the two presidents spoke with each other, otherwise, even when they were at the FIFA Congress, they just looked at each other and moved away.”
Palestinians claim Israel’s security forces, which control movement between the Gaza Strip and the Israeli-occupied West Bank, frequently prevent athletes travelling freely between the two separated territories. The PFA has previously called for sanctions against the IFA if the situation did not improve, while Israeli football’s governing body has rejected accusations that travel requests had been denied.