[Published 3 June 2011]
FIFA has been in the media spotlight this week as its practices and procedures have come under increasing scrutiny and its conduct has become of great concern to many of its member countries.
Symptomatic of its questionable practices was a complaint I made to FIFA last year concerning the information posted on its official web site concerning one of FIFA’s members - “Palestine” - which then appeared as a country with
1. defined borders
2. a stated area comprising the West Bank , East Jerusalem and Gaza,
3. a population whose numbers excluded the 500000 Jews who lived there and
4. a currency that did not exist.
Following my complaint FIFA has since taken some welcome action to revamp its website.
FIFA has now amended its country information for every member state by deleting all information relating to:
1. Main cities
4. Neighbouring countries
The general and geographic information for Palestine now reads as follows:
FIFA Trigramme: PLE
Country (official name): Palestine
Surface area: 6,326 km2
Highest point: Tail Asur 1,016 m.
Neighbouring seas and oceans: Mediterranean Sea
The continued designation of Palestine as a country and the retention of the surface area of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza which defines its borders - is misleading and deceptive.
There is no state of Palestine that exists in international law today. It is a fictitious entity which has been created by FIFA to get around its own rules restricting admission of members to the world body.
The Palestinian Football Federation was admitted as a member of FIFA in 1988 in contravention of FIFA’s own governing articles.
Article 10.1 of FIFA’s constitution provides:
“Any Association which is responsible for organising and supervising football in its country may become a Member of FIFA. In this context, the expression “country” shall refer to an independent state recognised by the international Community. Subject to par. 5 and par. 6 below, only one Association shall be recognised in each country.”
Paragraph 6 provides:
“An Association in a region which has not yet gained independence may, with the authorisation of the Association in the country on which it is dependent, also apply for admission to FIFA.”
Whether Israel agreed to the Palestinian Football Association being admitted as a FIFA member is unknown. Certainly it would never have done so in the expectation that FIFA would recognize Palestine as an independent State.
There is threatened action by the Palestinian Authority to approach the United Nations in September to seek international recognition of a Palestinian State incorporating the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.
However this action is doomed to failure because the conditions essential for the declaration and creation of a State as laid down by the Montevideo Convention 1933 do not exist.
Article 1 sets out the four following criteria for statehood
(a) a permanent population;
(b) a defined territory;
(c) government; and
(d) capacity to enter into relations with the other states.
Furthermore, the first sentence of article 3 explicitly states that:
“The political existence of the state is independent of recognition by the other states.”
The West Bank and Gaza fall far short of meeting these requirements.
Countries joining the rush to the United Nations to play this fictitious game in September will do their credibility no good and will become active players in undermining international law.
FIFA has already allowed itself to be caught up in politics in its decision to admit Palestine as a FIFA member - taking the invention of political fiction to a new and dangerous level.
During a recent visit to the Palestinian Authority, FIFA President Sepp Blatter exclaimed:
“I feel at home in Palestine,”
Is Mr Blatter unaware that unsuccessful negotiations have been ongoing between Israel and the Palestinian Authority since 1993 to define where ”home” is? Should Mr Blatter separate sport from politics and not engage in trying to create facts on the ground where none exist?
Mr Blatter also issued this Presidential decree at the same time:
“We know that Palestine is an exceptional situation for FIFA. Therefore, we need to find exceptional solutions. We’ll do our best to help. Football has no borders,”
Sorry Mr Blatter - football has borders that end at the borders of the member states according to FIFA’s own constitution - unless Associations dependent on another country receive authorization to join FIFA - not as independent countries but as Associations.
Bending the rules by creating exceptional solutions seems to contravene the very essence of stringently playing by and enforcing the rules of Football which FIFA imposes on its members.
Corporate maladministration seems to be at the root of FIFA’s current problems. Its cavalier attitude to admitting Palestine as a FIFA member contrary to the clear wording of its Constitution indicates one example of such maladministration.
FIFA has clearly taken its eye off the ball in making such a decision and scored an own goal - earning scorn and derision as it lives in its own dream world of make believe and fantasy.