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Palestinian soccer chairman asks FIFA to suspend Israel

In an interview with Al-Monitor, Palestinian Soccer Association Chairman Jibril Rajoub accuses Israel of harassing Palestinian soccer by preventing the free movement of players and the importation of equipment.
A Palestinian national flag is seen during the Olympic games qualifying match between Palestinian and Thai national soccer teams at a stadium in the West Bank town of A-Ram near Jerusalem March 9, 2011. The match is the first official international fixture to be hosted on Palestinian home soil.  REUTERS/Ammar Awad (WEST BANK - Tags: SPORT SOCCER) - RTR2JOA8
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Jibril Rajoub, the chairman of the Palestinian Football Association (PFA) and one of the leaders of the Fatah movement, is convinced that the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) will suspend Israel from the organization at the end of May. In recent months, Rajoub has been wielding tremendous pressure on FIFA Congress members who are scheduled to convene May 28 in Zurich to discuss the Palestinian Authority (PA) demand that Israel be suspended for what he calls its continual harassment of Palestinian sport in general and soccer in particular. A three-quarters majority of the organization's 209-member states is required to carry the resolution to suspend Israel.

In an interview with Al-Monitor, Rajoub says the Israelis believe that by virtue of being members of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) they can feel safe and protected, but that's a mistake. According to him, the Palestinians have already secured a majority to support Israel's suspension. The interview with Rajoub took place shortly after his return from Saudi Arabia, where he met with Nawaf bin Faisal, president-general of youth welfare from the Saudi Ministry of Youth and Sport.

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