Monday, February 18, 2013

FIFA's Double-Standard Against Israel

FIFA's Double-Standard Against Israel

Two incidents of racism, one by a small group of fans and one an official position - and who gets the negative publicity, do you think? and why?

Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5WPR

Ze’ev Jabotinsky said, “It is not the anti-Semitism of men; it is, above all, the anti-Semitism of things, the inherent xenophobia of the body social or the body economic under which we suffer.”

And indeed today, 75 years after Jabotinsky uttered those words in Europe, they still ring true.

Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the media and so many others simply employ an anti-Semitic double standard.

It could be funny if it wasn’t sickening. Just days after a slew of worldwide media coverage about racism in Israeli soccer surrounding the new Muslim players at Betar Jerusalem, there’s been a state sponsored act of racism in the Middle East and it has barely received any media coverage.

A simple review of the facts: A handful of fans of the only Israeli soccer team which didn’t have a Muslim player protested and yelled about the new Muslim players as the media reported these activities as racist. The highest echelons of the Israeli government made clear these were unsanctioned acts. The Mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat ,said police would take "a heavy hand to put an end to this issue” and indeed multiple fans have been arrested.

None other than Prime Minister Netanyahu said: “We must not tolerate racism of this kind. The Jewish people specifically, who suffered boycotts and ostracism, must serve as a light unto the nations."

These are isolated incidents which have been absurdly blown out of proportion. The New York Times ran two major stories on this issue – and countless other media outlets used it as their latest opportunity to bash Israel.

Meanwhile, this week there’s a deafening silence - excepting  Arutz Sheva -  as Israeli soccer star Itay Schechter, who plays for Swansea City, wasn’t allowed entry to Dubai for a training session as the United Arab Emirates does not recognize the state of Israel’s right to exist. Were he to enter the country, he would have been arrested and deported.

The UAE government is silent and so too is the media.

And as the media ignores the issue, so too does the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the International governing body of soccer. Reviewing FIFA’s website, one can read:

"FIFA recognizes its responsibility to lead the way in abolishing all forms of discrimination in football."

Article 3 of the FIFA Statutes states: “Discrimination of any kind against a country, private person or group of people on account of ethnic origin, gender, language, religion, politics or any other reason is strictly prohibited and punishable by suspension or expulsion.”

Of course, it’s a complete farce, as Qatar will host the 2022 World Cup where Israelis also aren’t permitted to enter.

Meanwhile, Israeli media reported that the Israel Football Association (IFA) said FIFA had requested clarification following racist chanting by fans at a league fixture last month against the Chechen players. FIFA has been silent on the state-sanctioned racist Arab governments – there’s no need for them to comment if indeed they honored what they claim it’s a black and white case.

As CEO of a leading PR Firm, it’s quite clear tto me that this is a simple double standard. Since this is a clear case of discrimination, perhaps an “impartial” third-party like the United Nations can help Israel.

Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5W Public Relations.