Letter to Argentinian Football Association, May 28, 2018

May 28, 2018

Mr. Claudio Tapia
Argentinian Football Association

Dear Mr. Tapia,

We are addressing you with regards to the official football match between the national teams of Israel and Argentina scheduled for June 9th 2018. As it has been made dear, the original field of the match was Haifa, however and after political pressure took place from the Israeli government, as it was openly said by Israel’s Minister of Culture and Sports Miri Regev, the match was moved to Jerusalem. This is a decision that, given the current context, the Palestine Football Association utterly rejects and condemns.

The Israeli government has turned a regular sports match into a political tool. As It was widely covered in Argentinian media, the match now is being played in order to celebrate the “70th anniversary of the State of Israel,” and the match itself is to take place in a stadium built on one of the at least 418 Palestinian villages destroyed by Israel 70 years ago, Al Malha.

At the same time, it has been made clear according to statements delivered by Israeli officials that the change of venue for the football match deals with the fact that Israeli authorities plan to take members of the Argentinian national team to the Old City of Jerusalem, an occupied territory in accordance with International Law. In doing so the Israeli Football Association is once again being used as a political tool by the Israeli Government in order to normalize the illegal annexation of Occupied East Jerusalem.

Sports in general, and football in particular, should be kept away from politics. But unfortunately the AFA’s acceptance to play with Israel in Jerusalem have reminded us all of how Israel uses sports as a tool to whitewash its actions, including by the presence of six football teams from illegal colonial-settlements in the occupied State of Palestine as part of the Israeli league. Argentina, and several other Latin American countries, known very well how football was used by their respective military dictatorships in order to whitewash their grave and systematic Human Rights violations. We would have
expected that learning from the past, and in accordance with FIFA regulations, this would not have been repeated.

The Argentinian national team has thousands of supporters among the Palestinian people and in the rest of the Arab world. It would be a shame that this historic relationship would be lost due to the AFA’s acceptance to become part of Israel’s tools to normalize its grave and systematic violations of International Law and Human Rights.

Kindest Regards,

Jibril Rajoub
Palestine Football Association