2002-05-11 / Community

Weiner Supports Israel In Football Fight

Weiner Supports Israel In Football Fight

Rep. Anthony Weiner is fighting an attempt by Arab states to bar Israel from international sports competition.  In a strongly worded letter, cosigned by 25 Members of the House of Representatives, Rep. Weiner urges Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) President Joseph Blatter to reject the Arab Football Federation's move to exclude Israel from international soccer play.

In April, the Saudi Football Association sent a letter to President Blatter, asking that FIFA suspend Israel from international competition because of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.  The letter was cosigned by soccer officials from several Arab states, including Jordan, Kuwait, Syria, Lebanon, and Oman.  Copies of the letter were sent to the International Olympic Committee, the Association of National Olympic Committees, and the Union of European Football Associations.

President Blatter has indicated that a suspension of Israel will be considered at FIFA's next Executive Board meeting, to be held tomorrow, in Zurich.

Rep. Weiner strongly opposes any effort to ban Israel from competition.  In his letter, Rep. Weiner expresses his "extreme distress" over Blatter's decision, and urges him to refuse to consider the Arab Football Federation's request.  The request, says Rep. Weiner, "is clearly in direct conflict with the statutes" of FIFA, and its consideration "only brings divisiveness into the Federation, unnecessarily degrades what should be a celebration of world sport, and serves to discredit FIFA and its leadership."

Rep. Weiner's letter was cosigned by 25 Members of Congress, both Democrat and Republican.  The following Members signed Weiner's letter: Benjamin Gilman (R - New York), Tom Lantos (D - CA), Jim Saxton (R - NJ), Henry Waxman (D - CA), Shelley Berkley (D - NV), Eliot Engel (D - NY), Robert Wexler (D - FL), Peter Deutsch (D- FL), Gary Ackerman (D - NY), Joseph Crowley (D - NY), Alcee Hastings (D - FL), Jerrold Nadler (D - NY), Barney Frank (D - MA), Steve Israel (D- NY), Howard Berman (D - CA), Carolyn Maloney (D - NY), Nita Lowey (D - NY), James McGovern (D - MA), Carolyn McCarthy (D - NY), William Delahunt (D - MA), Adam Schiff (D - CA), Eric Cantor (R - VA), and Steven Rothman (D - NJ).

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