Hamas calls on FIFA chief to visit Gaza

Hamas calls on FIFA chief to visit Gaza who are visiting in order for them to witness the situation in Gaza.

Hamas calls on FIFA chief to visit Gaza
World Bulletin / News Desk
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh has called on Sepp Blatter, head of global football governing body FIFA, to visit the Gaza Strip in order to "witness the dire conditions facing sports" in the war-battered enclave, which continues to groan under a years-long blockade.

Haniyeh's comments came following a meeting in the Gaza Strip with members of a visiting FIFA delegation, who arrived in the coastal strip one day earlier via the Erez border crossing with Israel.

"We urged delegation members to help end the plight of Palestinian athletes in the West Bank and Gaza caused by Israeli practices, which include travel bans and detentions – even assassination," Haniyeh told reporters after the meeting.

"We stressed that Israeli restrictions on sporting activities [in the blockaded Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank] must end, and that FIFA can help develop [Palestinian] sports infrastructure," Haniyeh said.

He added that athletic tournaments in the Palestinian territories "have not been affected by political divisions" between Hamas and the Ramallah-based Fatah movement.

"Members of the [local] football federation are elected from both Gaza and the West Bank," he said.

On Monday, after having been blocked by Israel for three hours at the Erez border crossing, a FIFA delegation – led by FIFA's senior development manager for Asia, David Borja – was eventually able to enter the Gaza Strip.

The delegation is visiting the embattled strip in order to inspect a number of stadiums that FIFA helped re-grass at a total cost of $1 million.

During Israel's 51-day military onslaught on the Gaza Strip last summer, at least 30 sports facilities were destroyed, with the Palestinian government reporting some $3 million in losses.

By the time the offensive ended on Aug. 26, more than 2,160 Gazans – mostly civilians – had been killed, including 32 athletes, according to figures released by the Palestinian government.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 06 Ocak 2015, 14:49