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FIFA to take legal advice on calls to suspend Israel Football Association

By Zayn Nabbi, CNN

(CNN) — World soccer governing body FIFA will hold a special council meeting within the next two months to determine if the Israel Football Association (IFA) will be suspended from international competition, president Gianni Infantino said Friday at a congress gathering in Bangkok, Thailand.

The Palestinian Football Association (PFA) had called for a vote to ban Israel before Infantino made the announcement over accusations that the IFA had violated FIFA rules during the continued war in Gaza.

“Due to the obvious sensitivity of these matters, FIFA will mandate, as of now, independent legal expertise to analyse and assess the three requests made by the Palestinian Football Association and ensure that the statutes and regulations of FIFA are applied in the correct way,” Infantino said.

“In order to ensure a fair and due process, of course, this legal assessment will have to allow for input and claims of both member associations.”

Infantino said the results and recommendations would be forwarded to all FIFA Council members before attending an extraordinary meeting that will be scheduled to take place before July 20, where the PFA’s proposal to suspend Israel from international matches will be addressed.

Prior to Infantino’s announcement, the PFA President Jibril Rajoub had called for immediate action from FIFA.

“As I speak to you today, the Palestinian people, including the Palestinian football family, are enduring an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe. We are witness [to] a live televised genocide unfolding in Gaza,” Rajoub said.

“I ask you to stand on the right side of history and vote now. The suffering of millions, including thousands of footballers, deserves as much. If not now, then when? Mr President, the ball is in your court.”

Rajoub went on to call for FIFA “to temporarily suspend the IFA as a member of FIFA with immediate effect.”

Jordan Football Association general secretary Samar Nassar backed Rajoub, saying: “We are not here to deliberate on the human tragedy. We are here to take a vote, the world is witnessing what FIFA will do today.”

“FIFA has stood on the right side of history before when it banned Yugoslavia, when it banned Russia, and when it banned South Africa for more than 20 years. And I think we have a role to take today,” Nassar added.

Reacting to the calls for the IFA’s ban, the association’s President Shino Moshe Zuares said: “Today, maybe more than ever, I believe that football must be a key element in healing the fractures and wounds, helping us and everyone to recover. Yet once again, we are facing a cynical, political and hostile attempt by the Palestinian Association to harm Israeli football.”

“Make no mistake, the IFA never violated rules set by FIFA and UEFA and will never do so in the future,” he added.

“Seven months after the terrible day, when football matches cannot be played in large parts of Israel, north and south, and over 130 Israelis are still being held in Gaza, it is injustice that even in these circumstances we find ourselves fighting for our basic right to be part of the game.”

In his closing remarks on the debate, Infantino said: “Like everyone, I was extremely, extremely shocked by what happened on October 7 in Israel. And like anyone else, I was extremely, extremely shocked, and am extremely shocked at what’s happening in Gaza.”

“I pray for all those people who suffer the unimaginable … and I want, like all of you, just one thing: peace.”

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