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May 29, 2015 5:29 pm

FIFA = ‘Federation International for Football Antisemitism’ or ‘Football International Felony Association’

avatar by Shimon Samuels

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The SWC presented a counter-protest to a pro-Palestinian demonstration outside the FIFA Congress Hall in Zurich. Photo: Shimon Samuels.

Facing a pro-Palestinian demonstration of some 150 people outside the FIFA Congress Hall in Zurich, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre was the only Jewish organization to present a counter-protest.

Supported by a few Christian friends of Israel, we sang Hatikva and “Am Israel Chaï.” The pro-Palestinians lunged forward, smashing my IPAD screen. Glass may crack but our position was unassailable.

The police ran between us, snatching our handkerchief-size Israeli pennants and fining an evangelical lady for wearing a tiny Star of David necklace.

We few Zionists were, apparently, the “provocateurs,” while, to background screams of “Zionism is Racism,” “Apartheid Israel,” the world’s television cameras focusedon “Blattergate,” oblivious to the genocidal display behind them of terrorist wannabes.

The several associations combating racism in football – with which we have cooperated for years – sat out this new threshold of antisemitism in football. I felt as safe at FIFA as if I were sitting on the terraces of a recent Netherlands match to the cries of “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas!”

Samuels on right of podium. Photo: Shimon Samuels.

Luckily, the Wiesenthal Centre, as a human rights agency, was spontaneously invited by Solidar – the Swiss international workers’ rights lobby – to join their demonstration against Qatar’s abuse of foreign labor.

For the 209 Football Association delegates inside the Congress Hall, “Blattergate” and Palestinian mayhem were to take their course. At one moment, however, the turmoil outside invaded the proceedings as two screaming women rioters unfurled a Palestinian banner.

Finally, the law went after real “provocateurs,” politely escorting them to the exit.

Pro-Palestinian demonstration outside the FIFA congress in Zurich. Photo: Shimon Samuels.

The Palestinians may have withdrawn their demand for a vote to suspend Israel.  This was a face-saving gesture as so many countries feared that such a vote would be a dangerous precedent for themselves.

At the end of the day, the hanging question remained: whether FIFA stood for “Football International Felony Association” or “Federation International for Football Antisemitism.” Either way, football has been tainted and now requires a root-canal treatment against both Mafia and racism.

Shimon Samuels is Director for International Relations of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre.

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