The heads of Israeli and Palestinian football will meet in Zurich in a bid to head off a Palestinian bid to expel Israel from the sport’s governing body, FIFA said Wednesday.
The announcement of the meeting came after FIFA president Sepp Blatter held talks with Israeli Football Association chief Ofer Eini to discuss the dispute.
The Palestinian Football Association (PFA) has called for a vote at the FIFA annual congress on May 29 calling for Israel’s expulsion for blocking Palestinian football through its sanctions on the Palestinian territories.
Blatter, a vociferous advocate of keeping politics out of sport, has made it clear he opposes any suspension of Israel.
“FIFA president Blatter reiterated his position that any member association that is fulfilling its statutory duties should not be suspended. This would also apply to the IFA as long as they fulfil such duties,” said a statement released after Wednesday’s talks.
“A meeting between the presidents of the IFA and PFA is scheduled to take place in Zurich in the next few days,” it added.
Blatter and FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke met with Eini and Israel federation secretary general Rotem Kamer.
“The main point on the agenda was the proposal by the PFA to suspend the IFA at the upcoming FIFA Congress.”
FIFA had earlier held talks with Palestinian association leaders.
In its draft resolution for the FIFA congress, the Palestinian protests over Israel’s treatment of Arabs and acts such as setting up clubs in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Israeli forces raided the PFA headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah in November.
Palestinian football chiefs have also condemned Israeli travel restrictions on Palestinian players and on importing equipment into the occupied territories.
To be passed the Palestinian resolution needs the support of three quarters of the 209 federations at the FIFA congress.
A FIFA delegation visited the Gaza Strip in January and pledged $1 million to help rebuild stadiums damaged in the conflict.