One of the biggest anomalies in football is Israel being part of UEFA and not the AFC, the confederation of the continent on which it is located. After all, Israel was expelled from the AFC in 1974 in a movement led by Arab countries.

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Now, the movement is for Israeli expulsion from FIFA. 12 Arab countries, led by Jordan through Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein, wrote a letter to FIFA calling for Israel’s expulsion.

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The letter is signed by Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Yemen and the United Arab Emirates.

“We call on FIFA to take a decisive stance on the atrocities committed in Gaza and condemn the murder of innocent civilians, including football players, coaches and referees, and the destruction of football infrastructure there,” the letter reads.

FIFA quickly punished Russia after the start of the Ukrainian War and the country remains away from international football competitions. Niv Goldstein, CEO of the Israeli Football Federation, says he “believes that FIFA will not involve politics in football”.

Palestine itself had already called for the expulsion of Israel from FIFA even before the current war. At the time, the argument was that there were teams in illegal occupations of Palestinian territory competing in the Israeli Championship, something that the organization vetoes. But the request was ignored.

Israel was one of the founding members of the Asian Football Confederation in 1954. It became champion of the Asian Cup in 1964, an edition also contested by South Korea, Hong Kong and India. There was a broad boycott by Arab countries of this and subsequent editions.

With the Khartoun Resolution, an agreement between Arab countries after the Six-Day War in 1967, not recognizing the State of Israel, remaining in the Asian Confederation became unfeasible. The expulsion came in 1974, proposed by Kuwait and approved by 17 votes to 13.

The curious thing is that before going to UEFA, Israel played for OFC, the Oceania Confederation.

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*The Copa Além da Copa is a podcast dedicated to approaching sport from a historical, political, cultural and social point of view. We also produce content on Instagram and Twitter, and we create exclusive material for subscribers to our crowdfunding campaign. Get to know her and become a supporter at

Editing: Lucas Estanislau


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