Australian FA: Palestine association chief’s entry a government matter

PERTH, Australia — Football Australia has said it is aware of Palestine Football president Jibril Rajoub being denied permission to enter the country to attend a World Cup Asian qualification match but said that border controls are a matter for the Australian federal government.

Members of the Palestinian squad flew into Perth on Saturday morning in preparation for their World Cup qualifier against Australia at HBF Park next Tuesday.

But a report from local outlet 7NEWS said that Rajoub was not among the travelling party, with the Australian Department of Home Affairs denying him entry to the country based upon what was reported as being a “technicality in his application,” rather than him being denied on character grounds.

In its role as the host association, Football Australia has been providing support for members of the Palestinian delegation to gain approval to enter Australia and a spokesperson confirmed to ESPN that it was aware of the situation involving Rajoub but unable to intervene.

“Football Australia is aware of the situation regarding the President of the Palestine Football Association, Jibril Rajoub,” the spokesperson said. “This is a matter for the Australian Government.

“Football Australia welcomes the Palestinian men’s national team for Tuesday’s FIFA World Cup Asian qualification match at HBF Park.

“In line with our responsibilities as the host member association, we provide visa support to all visiting football delegations and will continue to work with the Australian Government to facilitate the arrival of football stakeholders.”

With one game left in the second phase of Asian qualification, both Australia and Palestine have already secured their progression from group I — the latter reaching the final round of World Cup qualification for the first time after securing a 0-0 draw with Lebanon on Thursday.

Also reaching the knockout stages of the Asian Cup for the first time earlier this year, Palestine have been forced to play their home games during qualification in Kuwait and Qatar due to the ongoing fighting in Gaza between Israel and Hamas.

Rajoub, who leads both the Palestinian Football Association and the Palestine Olympic Committee, spoke at the recent FIFA Congress in support of a Palestinian motion to suspend Israel from international football, the application citing “international law violations committed by the Israeli occupation in Palestine, particularly in Gaza.”

FIFA said that it would seek independent legal advice on the proposal’s grounding before the staging of an extraordinary council meeting by July 20.