Farron and Lamb comment on motion to expel Israel from FIFA

Both leadership contenders have been commenting on the motion to expel Israel from FIFA.

Norman Lamb said:

Trying to resolve complex international issues through the politics of a football organisation mired in allegations of corruption smacks of the worst of kind of student politics. It will take us no closer to the dismantling of illegal settlements on occupied land, to the creation of a truly independent, democratic and economically viable Palestinian state on the West Bank or to the removal of Hamas terrorists from their grip on Gaza. Only international negotiation, greater European involvement and economic development of the region can achieve a lasting peace.

Tim Farron told the Jewish Chronicle:

An organisation which is widely seen as corrupt and which handed the World Cup to Russia and Qatar without regard for human rights, would be guilty of the most appalling hypocrisy were it now to exclude Israel from membership.

With FIFA’s reputation in tatters, as it is, it needs to concentrate on restoring trust, not exporting conflict.

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  • I’m very much with Norman on this one — he’s talking a lot of sense about the situation on the ground. Expelling Israel from FIFA sounds like a cosmetic gesture. I am tempted to say that cases can be made either way, but the compromise sounds good. But, I go with Normans’s view that the real issue is not a cosmetic gesture at FIFA, but peace with justice on the ground.

  • I’m disappointed in both their responses to be honest. Oh dear.

  • George Potter 30th May '15 - 12:41am

    What’s not mentioned is that the Palestinians actually withdrew their motion before a vote could be held on it – they are, however, continuing to pursue action over racism and obstruction by Israeli authorities to Palestinian football teams in the occupied territories and over Israeli football teams based in illegal settlements.

  • Quite sensible from both.

    Phyllis: what would you have FIFA do, expel every country that has ongoing territorial conflicts or human rights issues? Fifa would be pretty small by the end of such a purge.

  • Tony Dawson 30th May '15 - 9:57am

    Mark, it might be better all round if all the countries concerned expelled FIFA. 😉

  • Jonathan Brown 30th May '15 - 11:30am

    I’m also disappointed. I’m conflicted about the extent to which sport should be dragged into debates about how international disagreements should be resolved, but this issue can be looked at entirely on its own merits.

    It’s about football.

    Should Palestinian players in Israel be subject to viscious racism? Should Palestinian players be barred from travelling to take part in matches? Should Palestinian players be targetted at checkpoints and have their feet beaten to prevent them from playing?

    You can leave politics, settlements and the occupation out of this entirely. The focus should be on Israel’s handling of Palestinian football, and until Israel stops attacking it, suspension doesn’t seem unreasonable to me.

  • It would be right and proper that the manner in which FIFA should approach issues concerning how the occupying Israelis deal with football should be those which lead their considerations. Given all the other shenanigans that appear to go on in FIFA, this is rather refreshing.

    The question of ‘sports boycotts’ as part of a wider cultural/political movement of pressure is a complex one. It is intriguing,that the Jewish Chronicle reports Bibi Netanyahu (presumably accurately) thus

    “Netanyahu warns Blatter that expelling Israel will destroy Fifa”

    Am I alone in contemplating that headline as potentially containing a not-too-veiled threat?

    I am presuming, by the way, that the destruction talked about here is NOT like the destruction of the King David Hotel.

    Norman talks of ‘the worst kind of student politics. The sport boycott of South Africa, as I recall it, had a very powerful effect on the way in which the regime there slowly disintegrated.

  • Agreed Jonathan. This is about enforcing the rules and not bowing to Israeli exceptionalism as everyone else does. FIFA could have retrieved a little credibility by handling this firmly. The Lamb/Farron statements reveal how squishy they’ll be when it comes to foreign policy and the long overdue need — after 67 years of systematic criminality and mega-suffering — to bring justice to the Christian and Muslim communities in the Holy Land. Norman Lamb’s branding of Hamas as “terrorists”, when it’s obvious who the real terrorists are, is hugely disappointing in someone who otherwise has many of the right qualities for leadership.

  • I prefered Farron’s response, it was a bit less explicit but it omitted “Hamas terrorists”, which I thought a political mistake on Lamb’ part.

  • Michael Parsons 30th May '15 - 2:10pm

    Sport was used as a lever against South Africa, so why not against an Israel whose continues to defy international law, and use of heavy arms against highly populated areas? and, as the most heavily (nuclear) armed country in he area faces no credible threat but continually cries wolf and grabs land? why not use footballto mark Israel’s loss of moral credibility? As for FIFA’s problems, of course there may be corruption (like in the UK Commons?) but its plight seems more likely to be a US revenge strike for being denied the World Cup money-making opportunity.
    I would also like to protest against the extra “moderation” apparently promjised for these comments: it smacks of the growing lackof tolerance we see, for example, in the Irish same-sex marriage arguments: no-one seems talking about what such a marriage might mean in ndetail, but both sides are in full cry against people who express an alternative opinion. “Hown dare you even think it, let alone say it” is no argument, just inntolerance. Israel after all, if it develops further as as a gentile-free state, might not be the finest example mankind can follow or defend.

  • Jenny Tonge 30th May '15 - 2:19pm

    I agree with the member who is disappointed by the remarks by Farron and Lamb. Once again there are signs that they will bend their words so as not to offend the Zionists.
    I am amazed that Norman Lamb should refer to the called for ban as ‘the worst form of student politics’ Our student supporters, what remains of them, will not be impressed by that.
    When I was campaigning against South African apartheid many years ago, the campaign was led by sporting bans, very successfully and not just by students!
    As for Tim Farron, bashing on about Human Rights violations?. Read the FCO Annual Report on Human Roghts. It’s not just FIFA. You are both in a muddle.

  • Jenny Tonge 30th May '15 - 3:05pm

    Why not break with convention and have new leader from the House of Lords? Surely a good idea for the re -build that must go on over the next 5 years. Wider choice in the Lords too. Older, younger, more intelligent and more beautiful!

  • Sadie Smith 30th May '15 - 4:40pm

    Jenny, I think it is the Constution.. I want to see and help a team of campaigners . And for the team to include women..
    As media mostly ignoring us, there is logic in ignoring their rules. Sal seems to be doing fine. For that matter, ditto Harnan. Back to Cpnstitution.

  • Eddie Sammon 30th May '15 - 4:50pm

    Personally I am glad to see the reserved responses of both. The Israel-Palestine situation is not just as simple as “nasty Israel bombing innocent Palestine”.

    I’m not getting into a big debate about it (my favourite saying on contentious issues), but it seems clear that both sides have things to be unhappy about.

  • I think the Israeli football association has a serious case to answer in relation to the level of racism in football. It is one of the worst but not really talked about. You cannot have a football association which sanctions clubs with policies *not* to recruit arab or muslim professional football. It’s a matter for FIFA to sort out, not national politicians and down to whether or not they really want to stamp racism out from FIFA-affiliated football.

  • Sally Haynes-Preece 31st May '15 - 7:25am

    A sports ban was part of the eventually very successful campaign to dismantle apartheid in South Africa. The difference of course is that South Africa was banned from ALL sports by everyone. But everyone agreed apartheid was wrong…apart from the South African government of course. And the sports ban was part a wider isolation…..I played my own small part in that by refusing to buy any fruit from South Africa. It was the only action I could take. But in the apartheid situation there was a clear oppressor and it was clear who was being oppressed. The same cannot be said of the Israel/ Palestine situation where imo neither side can claim the moral high ground. And then Fifa itself isn’t exactly in a good place morally either!!! I think both Tim and Normal are looking at the the issue very sensibly.

  • SIMON BANKS 31st May '15 - 9:19am

    As far as I can see neither Tim nor Norman has ruled out using sports sanctions against Israel. They’ve both said FIFA is so arrogant and corrupt, there’s no point in trying to exclude an oppressive government – and Israel isn’t the only FIFA member with massive civil rights violations.

    Before long, some countries could withdraw from FIFA to form an alternative organisation. Now isn’t the time to use FIFA membership as stick and carrot.

  • Jonathan Brown 31st May '15 - 10:15am

    @Sally Haynes-Preece “in the apartheid situation there was a clear oppressor and it was clear who was being oppressed. The same cannot be said of the Israel/ Palestine situation where imo neither side can claim the moral high ground”

    I don’t think that’s right. No one / neither side is perfect (and it would be completely unreasonable and inhuman to expect either of them to act like saints), but it is very clear that Israel occupies Palestine and not the other way around. It is also clear that Israel has most of the power to change the current situation: the international backing; the nuclear weapons; the powerful army; the financial might of a modern industrical economy and of course, the settlement infrastructure.

    Of course there are things Palestinians could and should do differently. Israelis aren’t the only ones guilty of racism and/or supporting violence. But they are the ones with the power and the ones doing the occupying.

    And in this particular case, they are the ones destroying Palestinian football and not the other way around.

    Unless rules and standards are applied neutrally (i.e. in this particular case Israel is brought to book for attacking Palestinian football), the worst elements on both sides of this conflict will be further empowered.

    @Michael Parsons – the moderation can be (is) annoying, but it is routinely employed when the subject is the Israel/Palesine conflict, and rightly so in my opinion. It is very easy for someone to say something that can be misconstrued which leads to the conversation being completely derailed, not to mention being potentially embarassing to the party and/or this website. It is almost always possible to phrase what you want to say in such a way so as not to cause needless offence.

  • Sally Haynes-Preece
    “A sports ban was part of the eventually very successful campaign to dismantle apartheid in South Africa”

    Also the campaign included people wearing mid to late 20th century fashions (in clothes, hair and makeup), I don’t think those were in any way contributory to the success of the campaign.

    An argument for an action needs to be based upon what you are expecting it to achieve, if you think expelling Israel from a discredited organisation with deligates are under criminal investigation will achieve something, I would be interested in understanding what you expect and how you think that mechanism will work.

    I think Simon Banks sums the issue up rather well.

  • Tomas Howard-Jones 2nd Jun '15 - 1:56am

    The Palestinian Football Association called to expel Israel from FIFA before the FIFA scandal blew up, and relates to the strategy of reflecting each action that Israeli govt policy hits Palestinian society.

    i.e. Beatings of the PFA players, detaining them from playing matches, just generally doing everything possible to them via any allegation or pretext. All part of a broader concerted effort to destroy morale of Palestinian society and sustain an existential assault upon its fabric.

    The application hasn’t come from a bunch of interfering right-on UK lefty students jumping on the bandwagon of FIFA’s corruption scandal & dodgy awarding of host nations.

    The leadership contender’s comments are therefore disappointing, but particularly uninspiring from Norman Lamb -strutting as tough mutton to a sectarian newspaper?

    “…or to the removal of Hamas terrorists from their grip on Gaza”

    For starters, how does Norman suppose to remove an organisation that holds wide support amongst Palestinians? Or perhaps he follows Netanyahu’s line (which is even contrary to what has been widely leaked as being senior Mossad & IDF chief’s advice?)
    They are an elected group, whose roots grew from resistance to occupation and it’s not upto Israel, the EU, the US or anyone else to tell Palestinians that their representatives are forbidden.
    If you do that you’re basically cutting off Palestinian expression and their means of fair expression on the negotiating table.


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