Protesters call on SAFA to red card Israel

Palestine Solidarity Alliance calls for expulsion of Israeli Football Association from FIFA

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Photo of protest

Protesters from the Palestine Solidarity Alliance demonstrate outside the Hilton Hotel in Sandton where SAFA executives were holding their meeting. Photo: Ihsaan Haffejee

On Saturday protesters affiliated with the Palestine Solidarity Alliance demonstrated outside the venue where executive members of the South African Football Association (SAFA) were meeting. The small but vocal group waved Palestinian flags and held banners declaring “Red card Israeli apartheid” outside the Hilton Hotel in Sandton.

The protesters were demanding that SAFA support a call by the Palestinian Football Association for sanctions against the Israeli Football Association.

Naazim Adam from the Palestine Solidarity Alliance said they wanted the call for the suspension of the Israeli Football Association to be placed on the agenda of the SAFA Executive meeting.

“We want SAFA to support the Palestinian Football Association at the FIFA congress to expel the Israeli Football Association due to its apartheid policies and its violation of international law.

“In addition, SAFA must lobby the Confederation of African Football and collaborate with the Asian affiliates of FIFA to strengthen the cause of those on the receiving end of wars,” said Adam.

The Palestine Solidarity Alliance has compiled a booklet documenting the destruction of Palestinian sports infrastructure and the footballers killed by the Israeli army. They intended to hand it to executives of SAFA along with a memorandum of demands.

A football stadium in Gaza was also used as a makeshift detention camp where civilians were stripped and detained by Israeli forces.

Ayesha Raja, who joined the protest in Sandton, said, “When Russia invaded Ukraine their football teams were immediately sanctioned. Players and fans were allowed to display the Ukrainian flag and supportive T-shirts, but now when Palestinians are being killed in their thousands, there is not only silence from these sporting bodies but active bans on players trying to show solidarity with Palestine.”

She said the world should do to Israeli sporting bodies what they did to South African sporting bodies during apartheid.

“We are calling for a complete sporting, cultural and economic boycott of Israel. This is an area where ordinary people can make a difference in isolating Israel and ending the occupation,” she said.

Bennett Bailey, vice president of SAFA, received the memorandum on behalf of SAFA.

“We are not adverse to the cause. We just need to go through our process now to discuss this and make sure we place it on the appropriate agenda. We are in constant contact with the Palestinian Football Association and are taking this issue very seriously,” said Bailey.

TOPICS:  Israel-Palestine Sport

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