There are 12 countries that want FIFA to ban Israel from all world football competitions.
There are 12 countries that want FIFA to ban Israel from all world football competitions.


A letter seen by Sky News says that twelve football clubs in the Middle East want FIFA to stop Israel from playing football anywhere in the world.

President of the West Asian Football Federation Prince Ali bin Al Hussein is leading the charge. He is the half-brother of Jordan’s King Abdullah II. A “decisive stand” must be taken against Israel, the letter says. The countries in the Middle East point to Israel’s continuing bombing of the Gaza strip, which began in response to Hamas’ attack on October 7 that killed 1,200 Israelis. There are still more than 130 prisoners.

A humanitarian disaster has happened in Gaza because of the fighting. The local health ministry says that more than 27,400 Palestinians have been killed. A total of 2.2 million people in Gaza are going hungry, and the United Nations says that another 1.7 million have been forced to leave their homes within Gaza.

“We, the West Asian Football Federations, encompassing all its members, call upon FIFA, the Football Confederations, and Member Associations to join us in taking a decisive stand against the atrocities committed in Palestine and the war crimes in Gaza, by condemning the killing of innocent civilians including players, coaches, referees, and officials, the destruction of the football infrastructure, and taking a united front in isolating the Israeli Football Association from all football-related activities until these acts of aggression cease,” Prince Ali wrote for the 12-nation group.

Football groups from Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates all signed the letter. All 211 football federations and six regional confederations have been sent the letter. This includes the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), which started its UEFA Congress meeting in Paris on Thursday.

The Israel Football Association called the move cynical and shameless in a post on X (formerly Twitter). The group has also asked FIFA to keep politics out of sports choices and let them qualify for the men’s European Championship, which starts in June.

Niv Goldstein, CEO of the Israeli FA, told Sky News, “I trust FIFA not to get politics involved in football.” “We do not want politicians to be involved in football or in any political matter related to football in general.” Goldstein told the news source that they are only thinking about football and the upcoming event.

When TIME asked FIFA and Israel’s FA for comments, they didn’t answer right away.

Russian clubs and national teams were not allowed to play in football games in 2022 because Russia had invaded Ukraine in a big way. Some fans around the world say that this choice shows that FIFA is not politically neutral.

FIFA took action in the past to remove Indonesia as the host country for the Under-20 World Cup in 2023. The tournament was supposed to happen in May 2023, but FIFA took away the country’s hosting rights because it wasn’t clear if Israel would be able to participate without any problems. Officials and protesters alike called for Israel to be banned months before the latest conflict, even though they had qualified for the competition. Indonesia doesn’t have formal ties with Israel because it sees the country as an occupier.

There are other groups besides the West Asian Football Federation that want Israel to be kicked out of international sports organisations. Many sports groups, like the International Olympic Committee and FIFA, were asked by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel to not include the country because of its human rights record.

In January, Gary Lineker, who hosts BBC’s Match of the Day in the U.K. and used to play professional football, backed calls to ban Israel. Lineker posted the comment on X, but then agreed with BBC bosses to delete it because of the company’s strict rules about employees being fair.

A long effort, which began in 2018, asked Puma to stop sponsoring Israel’s national football team. This was led by boycott movements. The German sports brand ended its sponsorship deal in December, but a spokesperson had told TIME that the move was not political but part of the company’s “fewer, bigger, better” business plan.

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