The council meeting for FIFA, the worldwide football association, that opens on Thursday, October 13, 2016 in Zurich, will hear from a monitoring committee it established in 2015 to review its sponsorship of matches on Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

In a report issued on September 25, 2016, Human Rights Watch called for FIFA to bar its affiliate, the Israeli Football Association (IFA), from organizing football activities in West Bank settlements because those settlements are illegal under the Fourth Geneva Convention governing the transfer of population to occupied territory. Six football clubs that play in the IFA host their official home matches in settlements, on land unlawfully taken from and off-limits to Palestinians.


FIFA’s own rules prohibit a member association from holding competitions on the territory of another member association without permission. In an October 8 letter to FIFA President Gianni Infantino, the Palestine Football Association reiterated its objection to FIFA-sponsored matches in settlements.

“The council meeting is a chance for the new FIFA president, Gianni Infantino, to show FIFA’s commitment to upholding human rights in its operations,” said Minky Worden, global advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. “The council should rule that if settlement teams want to maintain their FIFA affiliation they must relocate to Israel.”

Human Rights Watch has extensively documented abuses tied to FIFA activities and infrastructure construction, including in Russia and Qatar in preparation for the World Cup competitions scheduled in those countries for 2018 and 2022 respectively. Human Rights Watch has urged FIFA to develop effective rights policies and practices to end such abuses and enable victims to secure redress.

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sources: Human Rights Watch press release