Football Against Apartheid has just learned of the arrest and detention of approximately 10 FIFA officials as we head off to Zurich to protest at the congress against the FIFA manoeuvring to stop Israel being EXPELLED for apartheid Racism.
The timing by Swiss authorities – who executed this extraordinary early-morning operation at the FIFA officials hotel this morning Wednesday 27 May 2015 to arrest several top soccer officials and extradite them to the United States on federal corruption charges – is unprecedented. USA unwavering support for the apartheid state is already a concern for many Americans.
209 top officials of national football associations affiliated to FIFA, soccer’s global governing body, are gathered in Zurich for their annual Congress, and over a dozen plain-clothed Swiss law enforcement officials descended secretly at their elaborate 5 star Baur au Lac hotel, and demanded access to the rooms upstairs where officials were staying.
The arrests were not discreet but peaceful, with at least two men seen being escorted but without handcuffs out of the hotel. It is reported that Eduardo Li of Costa Rica, was escorted out by police and was able to take his belongings with him in his FIFA bag as he left his his room by a side-door exit of the hotel.
There has been a considerable number of allegations of corruption in FIFA in recent years, not least the alleged $40, 0000 watches provided to many national FIFA officials to vote for Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup final, even though the temperature in Qatar during the World Cup may reach 50 degrees where the lives of players officials and fans would be at serious risk. Abuse of foreign workers constructing the football stadium in Qatar includes includes alleged beatings, failure to pay wages and fatalities, and subsequent calls for the World Cup finals tournament to be played elsewhere.
There is also the issue of lucrative broadcasting “deals” and allegations of fraud, racketeering and money laundering, and focus will be on several members of the FIFA Executive committee.
But its the timing of the arrests that is intriguing, on the eve of the FIFA Congress where Palestinian football officials have tabled a motion calling for sanctions be taken against apartheid Israel. Israel is being accused of Apartheid racism and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. Last year only weeks after the end of the FIFA Congress and World Cup in Brazil, the world was shocked when Israel launched a massive attack on the city of Gaza and massacred 547 children who were sleeping in their beds, and set in motion a call for the expulsion of Israel from FIFA.
Since the Palestinian Football Association submitted its resolution to ban Israel from FIFA competitions there has been unprecedented diplomatic manoeuvring by both FIFA’s President and Israeli diplomatic missions in 100 Israeli embassies. Their aim being to lean on governments of national football associations who may be considering their support for the Palestinian people including its national football team who only days ago were detained up for hours by Israeli officials as they prepared to travel abroad for a match.
The Palestinian Football association was expecting massive support for their resolution to end the Israeli membership of FIFA who were expelled from The Asian Football Confederation in 1974 for its apartheid style racism, two years before Apartheid South Africa was expelled from FIFA for its apartheid racism. Israel was admitted to UEFA in 1994, whilst still expelled by AFC for apartheid racism.
Only two months ago on 12 March 2015 FIFA courted controversy by expelling Zimbabwe who became the first football association to be expelled from FIFA since Apartheid South Africa was expelled on 16 July 1976 in Montreal. What is controversial is the fact that black Zinbabwe is expelled because it owes a debt of approximately $60, 000 to its former coach, whilst Israel’s alleged crimes of shooting footballers, arresting them, torturing them, and allegedly establishing ‘Jews only’ Israeli football teams on stolen Palestinian land, goes largely unpunished.
It is unclear if there is any connection between the arrests this morning of FIFA officials who may be considering voting against continued membership of the Israeli Football Association in FIFA. But the arrests and proposed trials of black officials of FIFA in USA, and the bureaucratic expulsion of Zimbabwe for financial and corruption allegation as we approach the first anniversary of the massacre of 547 sleeping Palestinian children will concern millions of football fans across the world. No doubt increase calls for the EXPULSION of apartheid Israel from FIFA.
Football Against Apartheid 27 May 2015