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Palestinian financial crisis threatens football league, association chief says

The Palestinian Authority has been hurt financially by an Israeli law that restricts Palestinian tax payments

Jibril Rajoub, President of Palestinian Football Association, addresses the 65th FIFA Congress in Zurich, Switzerland, May 29, 2015. Reuters.
Jibril Rajoub, President of Palestinian Football Association, addresses the 65th FIFA Congress in Zurich, Switzerland, May 29, 2015. Reuters.

The Palestinian football league is under threat from a wider financial crisis in the Palestinian Authority, the body that operates limited self-rule in the occupied West Bank, the head of the Palestinian football association said on Saturday.

Jibril Rajoub said that the entire Palestinian national football league could be suspended if the Palestinians do not receive enough funds to begin the season.

“I briefed President Mahmoud Abbas on the situation. Unless 50 per cent of what was provided to the football clubs last year is provided this year, there will be no league,” Mr Rajoub said during a meeting of the PFA in the town of Al-Ram, northeast of Jerusalem, Palestinian news agency Wafa reported.

He said that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas expressed his willingness to allocate enough funds for the football league to begin as planned.

“We will not accept the collapse of the sports system, but the situation requires integrated efforts. We do not want the clubs to be victims of the financial crisis,” Mr Rajoub said.

The PA is in dire straits after Israel said it would deduct the equivalent of payments made by the PA to families of Palestinian suspects involved in attacks against Israelis from any tax funds it delivers to the Palestinians. The Palestinians, in response, said it would refuse to accept any of the tax money. That amount comes to about $200 million a month. That amount can cover up to two-thirds of the PA's entire budget.

Mr Rajoub has faced troubles elsewhere. He is still serving a one-year ban from football handed down by Fifa after he called on Palestinians to burn shirts bearing the name of Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi before a planned friendly between Argentina and Israel last year. The match was cancelled after pressure on Argentina from boycott groups. He appealed the ban but it was rejected last month by the International Court of Arbitration, a quasi-judicial court that handles sports disputes.

Updated: August 4, 2019 12:41 PM

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