The Australian Jewish Association (AJA) has officially requested that the national football team boycott their second Asian Cup group match against Palestine.
The request to the Football Federation Australia (FFA) demanded the boycott on the grounds that the Asian Football Confederation should not have admitted Palestine as a member as it is “not a country recognized by the international community”.
A statement by the AJA said that the Asian Football Confederation is dominated by “Arab interests” and that the expulsion of Israel from the body in 1974 was “antisemitic”:
“The admission of ‘Palestine’ as a participating country is the other side of the same antisemitic coin. ‘Palestine’ is in part controlled by Hamas, a proscribed terrorist organization and in part by the Palestinian Authority which incites and rewards the murder of Jews in Israel … Australia’s participation in the Asian Cup in these circumstances legitimizes the politicization of the Cup as it renders Australia complicit with the AFC’s political bias against Israel.”
Australia is due to play Palestine in a crucial Group B clash in Dubai on Friday, after losing their first game against Jordan.
Palestine picked up their first point in a major tournament last weekend after drawing 0-0 with Syria in Sharjah.
Palestine was admitted to FIFA in 1998 and qualified for their first Asian Cup in 2015 in Australia.
Israel has a history of hindering freedom of movement for Palestinian footballers in the occupied territories, and they are regularly subjected to interrogations when passing through Israeli-run checkpoints and boundary crossings.
Israel also charges extortionate customs taxes for sports equipment to Palestinians living under occupation and has often denied travel permits for footballers wishing to participate in international tournaments.