Soccer boss to visit Israel, Ramallah in bid to thwart suspension vote


(JTA) — The world soccer federation’s boss, Sepp Blatter, is preparing to travel to Jerusalem and Ramallah in a bid to resolve a dispute over a Palestinian effort to have Israel banned from the association.

Blatter, president of the Switzerland-based FIFA, told reporters on Friday that he will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas when he arrives in the region next week, the Associated Press reported.

“Netanyahu would not receive the FIFA delegation if he would not be ready to make concessions,” Blatter said, referencing Palestinian conditions for dropping their national soccer federation’s demand that Israel be suspended for allegedly preventing Palestinian soccer players from playing internationally.

The Palestinians have threatened to push for a vote by FIFA’s member nations during an international conference by delegates on May 29. Blatter is on record as opposing the vote and Israel’s potential suspension for reasons he has said are political and unconnected to soccer.

Earlier this week, the president of Brazil’s soccer federation, CBF, which is one of the most prominent bodies on FIFA, also expressed his opposition to the vote.

“The CBF understands that soccer promotes peace and not discord, and should not be utilized for political ends,” CBF President Marco Polo del Nero said during a meeting in Sao Paulo with Eduardo Wurzmann, secretary of the CONIB federation of Jewish communities, CONIB said in a statement published Thursday.

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