CHAPTER III: The 2nd phase of the FIFA Task Force Mechanism (FA 64th Congress May 2014 in Sao Paolo)
By: Susan Shalabi
While the football Community was eagerly awaiting the FIFA President’s report on the FIFA Task Force Mechanism, two Palestinian players were brutally beaten up, and one shot dead in cold blood by an Israeli sniper.
No MoU was signed between the Palestine Football Association (PFA) and the Israeli Football Association (IFA) as had been hoped. In his report to the FIFA 64th Congress, FIFA's President Blatter admitted that "the progress was unsatisfactory", and asked for yet another extension of the mandate.
The fact that the mechanism had not produced any real progress had necessitated the appointment of a FIFA neutral monitor to report on the mechanism to the FIFA EXCO meeting of December 2014. The President of the Cyprus Football Association Mr. Costakis Koutsoumnis was appointed to perform the task.
And so, the 2nd phase of the FIFA Task Force mechanism, an attempt by FIFA to ease the suffering of Palestinian football, was born, right after the FIFA 64th Congress unanimously voted in the proposal by the FIFA President to develop the mechanism and try to fix its many shortcomings.
Again, hopes were short-lived as things got from bad to worse. The Israeli war on Gaza destroyed almost every football facility there, and deprived Palestinian football from so many players, coaches, and officials.
The neutral monitor, Mr. Koutsoumnis, surprisingly _or perhaps not so surprisingly_ submitted both his report and his resignation from the Task Force to the FIFA EXCom before his term was over...
This report records some of the the Israeli transgressions in that period:
On 8 July 2014, Israel started what it called "Operation Protective Edge" in the Gaza strip. A military incursion which is referred to as the 2014 Gaza war. The Israeli airstrikes and ground bombardment, and the ground fighting resulted in the death of thousands of Palestinian and the destruction of many sport facilities. (detailed in another report in this blog). The chronology of events below shows only some of the incidents in which sport people and sport facilities were targeted, both in Gaza and the West Bank:
- On Wednesday, the 9th of July 2014 Israeli bombardment killed 8 Palestinian young men in Khan Younis/Gaza. The victims were watching the semi-final world cup match -between Argentina And the Netherlands- among dozens of others, in a coffee shop named “Waqt Al-Marah” (Fun time), located on the beach, when the coffee shop was targeted by what eye witnesses said to be two Israeli rockets, while a nearby coffee shop was being shelled by Israeli navy boats.
These men were:
- Ibrahim Khalil Qannan, 24 years old.
- Mohammad Khalil Qannan, 26 years old.
- Hamdi Badee’Sawali, 33 years old.
- Ibrahim Badee’Sawali, 28 years old.
- Sulaiman Al-Astal, 55 years old.
- Ahmad Al-Astal
- Mousa Al-Astal
- Mohammad Al-Aqqad, 24 years old
A police officer named Wael Soboh, said the men had just had their Iftar meal, and were watching the game when the shelling started. “This is not a military zone”, he added. Other eye witnesses said that a fire broke out in the coffee shop after the shelling, and that 9 of the 9 died immediately. Nothing was left from the coffee shop, which was turned into a smoking pit, safe for heaps of debris, and the name sign of the place.
A survivor from the bombing, named Mohammad Aqqad said tha many people come here because the electricity is often down in Khan Younis, due to Israeli bombardment, and this place had a TV screen and a a power generator. “They were all football fans” he said.
- On July 9, 2014, player Bashar Ahmed, who played for Khadamat Jabalia FC, was killed in the Israeli bombardment of Jabalia. Bashar was a promising player known for his compassion and good manners.
- On July 13, 2014, Israeli air strikes killed the Technical Director and Board Member of Al-Tuffah FC, Ahmad Dalou.
- On 14 July, 2014, the Goal Keeper of Al-Tuffah FC, Ahmad Salah Abu Sidou, 17 years old, was killed during the Israeli artillery random bombardment of Al-Tuffah neigbourhood, in Gaza. Ahmad played in the 2nd team, and was a candidate to the senior team for the talent he displayed in local competitions.
- On Tuesday July 15, 2014, Al-Zaytun Club senior player, Mohammad Al-Zamli was killed during an Israeli air strike on the residential area in which he lives in east Rafah.
- On 15 July 2014, Mohammad Abu Bei’dh, the mid-field star of Al-Daraj FC, lost his left leg as a result of a shrapnel that hit him during the Israel bombardment of Al-Shajaiyeh area in Gaza. He was rushed to the hospital but the doctors there had to amputate his leg, since it was beyond repair. Mohammad has been a player for the last 12 years, and now, he will never play football again.
- On the 16th of July, 2014, Four young boys – members of the same family – playing football on the beach were killed by what witnesses confirm was gunfire from Israeli warships carrying out a blockade of Gaza. According to “the independent”, and to the footage in the French video of the incident, the attack on the fishing port in Gaza City came at just after four o’clock on a sunny and clear afternoon with good visibility. The group of cousins, aged between nine and 11, were playing football, according to witnesses, when a shell from the direction of the sea hit, and they started to run. Three of them made it to a close by hotel, were some journalist staying there gave them first aid. The four others were not that lucky; one died at the scene, and the other three at the hospital. The victims, who were the sons of a fisherman, were: Ismael Mohammed Bakr, 9 years old, Zakaria Ahed Bakr and Ahed Atif Bakr, both 10, and Mohammed Ramiz Bakr, 11 years old.
- On the 19th of July, 2014, Israeli Police Forces, who had broken into the vicinity of Al-Aqsa Mosque, beat up referee Saadi Abu Sneineh, causing him a head injury.
- On the 30th of July, 2014, at about 10h300, the former head coach of the Palestine National team Mr. A’aed Zaqqut was killed during an Israeli airstrikes that hit his apartment in Al-Nasr/Gaza. Several projectiles fell on the apartment and he one of which caused his instant death. Zaqqut has been a prominent mid-fielder in the 80s an 90s, and has worn the colors of the Palestine national team in many competitions. He had coached more than one first-class club senior teams in Gaza since he quit playing, among which are Al-Hilal club, Gaza Al-Riyadi, Shajaiyeh, and Khadamat Al-Shatii’
- On 21st of July, around 14h30, Israeli artillery, located east of the Governorate of Deir-Albalah/Gaza, shelled Shuhada Al-Aqsa hospital killing many civilians, among whom was Alaa Abu Dahrooj, a player in Deir Al-Balah club born 1998.
- On 26 July 2014, Israeli forces kidnapped Mohammad Abu Rida, who plays for Shabab Khan Younis FC, during the Israeli incursion in the area of Khaza’a. Mohammad and the other citizens, who were kidnapped as well, were tortured by their captors, before they were released.
- On the 30th of July, 2014, at about 10h30, the former head coach of the Palestine National team Mr. A’aed Zaqqut was killed during an Israeli airstrikes that hit his apartment in Al-Nasr/Gaza. Several projectiles fell on the apartment and he one of which caused his instant death. Zaqqut has been a prominent mid-fielder in the 80s an 90s, and has worn the colors of the Palestine national team in many competitions. He had coached more than one first-class club senior teams in Gaza since he quit playing, among which are Al-Hilal club, Gaza Al-Riyadi, Shajaiyeh, and Khadamat Al-Shatii’
- On 30 July 2014, The Palestine Football Association’s Vice President, Ibrahim Abu Salim, miraculously survived the Israeli artillery bombardment of his house. Israeli artillery had been shelling the area where he lives in Gaza, and he got injured in the head and back by shrapnel.
- On 30 July 2014, former referee Bahaa Al-Gharib and his 16 years old daughter , Ola, were killed in an Israeli airstrike on Rafah. Bahaa had been a referee in the 70s and 80s, and has been working as director of Hebrew news in the Palestine Broadcasting Corporation.
- On 1 August 2014, Israeli soldiers shot player Oda’i Nafez Jaber, 19 years old, in the village of Safa, west of Ramallah. Odai was shot by 3 bullets which killed him instantly. Oda’i played for Beit Ur, and Kharbatha FCs, and was about to sign a contract with a professional club had the bullets of the Israeli soldiers not found him.
- On the 8th of August, 2014, player Mahmoud Farahat, player in Tal Al-Sultan club in Rafah/Gaza was killed during the Israeli bombardment of Rafah.
- On the 9th of August, 2014, Israeli airstrikes destroyed the house of Abdullah Salameh, a key player in the Palestinian Beach Soccer National Team.
- On 7 August 2014, Israeli airstrikes caused severe damage in the Palestine Football Association HQ in Beit Lahia/Gaza. This was not the first time the building, a FIFA Goal Project, got shelled.
- On 8 August 2014, Israeli soldiers shot Al-Amaari club former player, Mohammad Al-Qatri, 19 years old, as he was protesting the Israeli atrocities in Gaza, from close range. The soldiers prevented Palestinian Ambulances from reaching him, leaving him bleeding where he was shot, which caused his death. Mohammad has been working in the Joseph Blatter Academy since he quit playing. He was admired and loved by everyone who worked with him.
|Mohammad Al-Qatri gets a firm handshake from Sepp Blatter|
|Mohammad Al-Qatri, 19 - Killed by Israeli soldiers near the colony of Bsagot|
|Former Women's National Team player, Hamama Jorban says her goodbyes to Mohammad|
- On 10 August 2014, an Israeli airstrike destroyed Al-Ribat FC HQ, located in Al-Nuseirat refugee camp, in Gaza.
- On Wednesday August 13, 2014 at 3:30 a.m, an Israeli occupation force arrested Waheeb Nimer Jamil 'Alqam, 29 years old, holder of ID# (850339052), and a football player of Beit Ummar Football club. The Israeli occupation forces surrounded Waheeb's house in Beit Ummar village, south of Palestine, and arrested him under the pretext of throwing stones at Israeli occupation troops. A trial was scheduled for Easa on March 9, 2015. It was later postponed until March, 22, 2015.
- On Wednesday Sep 3, 2014 at 3:30 a.m, an Israeli occupation army force arrested Rasheed 'Ali 'Easa 'Awad, 17 years old, holder of ID# (4021691217), and a football player of Beit Ummar Football club. The Israeli force surrounded Rasheed's house in Beit Ummar village, south of Palestine, and arrested him under the pretext of throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli occupation troops. Rasheed is still in prison pending trial. He had been arrested for the first time on July 18, 2012 and had been sentenced to a twelve- month jail time. He was released on August 18, 2012.
- On Wednesday, September 3, 2014, at 3:00 a.m, an Israeli occupation army force arrested Easa Ali 'Easa 'Awad, 27 years old, holder of ID# (850426784), and a football player from Beit Ummar Football team. The Israeli occupation forces surrounded Easa's house in Beit Ummar village, south of Palestine, and arrested him under the pretext of throwing stones at the monitoring towers of Israeli occupation troops. Easa is still in prison without pending trial. Rasheed had been arrested twice before; The first time on March 10, 2009, when he had been sentenced to a seven-month jail time under the pretext of throwing stones. He was released on October 26, 2009. He was arrested for the second time on March 10, 2013 and sentenced to nine-month jail time under the same pretext and released on Dec. 17th, 2014.
- On Sunday , September 7, 2014 at 4:00 am, an Israeli Armed Force arrested player Ahmed Abdulla Qassem Manasra, 26 years old, player in Bani Ne’im Sport Club, holder of ID # (410 265 873). The force surrounded the house, before they handcuffed Ahmed, and forced him into a military jeep. He was then taken to the Kiryat Arba’a settlement, and afterwards to Etzion camp, south of Bethlehem. In the morning of September 7, 2014, he was transferred to Ofer camp, where he underwent interrogation for allegedly throwing stones at Israeli troops, then returned to Etzion. He stayed in Etzion for six days, after which he was submitted to three military courts that were all postponed. Ahmed was transferred again to Ofer Camp where he stayed for 29 days, then to Eshel prison where he stayed for another 21 days. He was then submitted to two trials that were postponed while he got transferred, on December 22, 2014, to Raymond Prison/Section (3) after being sentenced 6 months imprisonment and a fine of 2500 NIS (651 USD). He was released on February 15, 2015 (012)
- On Friday 12 September, 2014, FIFA International referee Farouq Assi was detained for more than 4 hours by the Israeli army, as he was on his way to officiate in an official league match. Referee Assi was driving his private car, a white VolksWagen Caddy, with referees Muath Samahah (from Ein Seinya), Mohammad Nasser (From Saffa), and Ali Alawi (from Deir jreer) heading to Jericho to officiate in a semi-professional league match between Hilal Areeha FC and Beit Ummar FC, which was scheduled at 18h00 on the same day. Assi and his fellow referees arrived at the Silwad checkpoint early at around 15h30. Their vehicle was the first in line when the stone throwing at the soldiers started. All vehicles were denied crossing the checkpoint and were detained there until 17h00. When Assi and his friends tried to move the car out of the line of fire and stones, turning the car on the location, the soldiers got them out of the car, confiscated the keys, and manhandled Assi, kicked him around, and put him in a corner, blindfolded, with his hands tied behind his back.
- On Monday November 3, 2014 at around 3:30 a.m, an Israeli occupation army force arrested Mahmoud Muhammad Musleh 'Awad, 26 years old, holder of ID# (520314139), and the defender of Beit Ummar Football club . 'Awad was arrested when he was attending his cousin's trial, Mu'ayad Tumar at Ofer Court/Beituniya, west of Ramallah, under the pretext of throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli occupation troops. On Feb 3, 2015, 'Awad underwent a military trial and was sentenced to a seven-month jail time and charged a NIS 4000 fine ($1000). This was the second arrest of 'Awad who had been arrested for the first time on Oct 7, 2013 and had been sentenced to a five-month jail time under the same previous pretext. He was released on Feb. 20th, 2014.
- In November 2014, a reportedly joint force of Israeli Police and intelligence broke into Burj Al-Luqluq Social Center, located in the Old City of Jerusalem, where they conducted a two-hour search that wrought havoc all over the place.According to Mr. Muntasir Idkaidik, the executive manager of the Centre, the Israeli armed force also broke into the kindergarten, where 40 children were having a normal school day, intimidating the children, who showed signs of sock and anxiety.
- On 24 November 2014, at 9h20 a.m., an Israeli army force of three military jeeps broke into the Head Quarters of the Palestine Football Association. The force disembarked from the 3 vehicles and started to conduct a search in the first floor of the building, while preventing the employees, who were coming for their work, from entering the premises. The soldiers interrogated the employees of the 1st floor, asking a few of them when they arrive and depart from work. After 35-40 minutes inside the building, the force withdrew from the premises, but remained in the vicinity close by. When asked by the Director of the International department of the PFA why the force broke into a football facility that is under FIFA, their proclaimed officer denied breaking into the place at all. The officer said they were looking for someone and did not find him. The PFA official asked why they were still in the vicinity, then. The officer then asked the press not to take any footage, and the force withdrew from the vicinity shortly after that.
- In December 24, 2014, an Israeli Armed Force arrested Dora Al-Qari' FC player Muhammad Lutfi Ramadan Azubaidi, 21 years old and holder of ID No# (854543121). Muhammad had been arrested before, back in 2012, when he was sentenced to serve a five-month jail time and a pay a fine of NIS 2000 ($500). He was released in July 2012, only to be arrested again on December 24, 2014, under the pretext of throwing stones at the Israeli occupation soldiers. His trial was postponed five times till February 15, 2015. He is still imprisoned. (023)
- On Thursday, December 25, 2014, an Israeli Armed Force arrested player Khaled Al-Sheikh, football player of Beit 'Anan club, 25 years old and holder of ID No. (405037086). The Israeli occupation forces ambushed Khaled as he was outside his house, in his town, and arrested him under the pretext of throwing stones at the Israeli occupation troops, and burning tires in protests . His trial was postponed four times before he was sentenced during the fifth trial to a four-month jail time and a fine of NIS 2000 ($500). He is still imprisoned till now. (021)
And so, the year 2014 ended in sadness and more suffering on the Palestinian side, while the mechanism shifted further into the realm of dreams, leaving the FIFA Task Force with one big question on why the Mechanism did not produce any viable change? and to decide whether it was really worth it
The writer elects to leave this question for the next chapter....