Daniel Tregermann was four years old in 2014 when he was killed by a mortar shell fired at Israel from Gaza. Daniel loved soccer and was a fan of Lionel Messi. He always wore a Argentine national team jersey with Messi’s team number.
On June 9, 2018 a friendly match between Israel and Argentina was scheduled to take place in Jerusalem. Daniel Tregermann would certainly have been thrilled to see that game live. Unfortunately, however, this international match was cancelled by the Argentinians following serious threats against the Argentine national team.
Djibril Radschub, the president of the Palestinian soccer association, suggested that jerseys with Messi’s name and number should be burned if he dared to play in Israel. On June 5, 2018 protesters in front of the training camp in Barcelona held up Argentine jerseys smeared in blood-red color. Radschub is enthusiastic about the cancellation and says:
„Sportsmanship has triumphed today, and Israel was shown the red card.“
Article 3 of the Standard Statutes of the International Federation of Football Associations (FIFA) 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.“
It’s a shame that this statute is regularly ignored when it comes to Israel. Iran, for example, will take part in this year’s World Cup in Russia. In August 2017, the Iranian Football Federation FFIRI expelled two national players from the World Cup team because they had played against the Israeli team Maccabi Tel Aviv in the European League qualification with their club, the Greek first division team Panionios Athens. The Iranian Ministry of Sport then announced that there will be no player slots for Masoud Shojaei, who was captain of the team at the time, and the midfielder Ehsan Haji Safi because they crossed a „red line“. For Iran, the discrimination of Israel is raison d’etat!
Anyone who plays peacefully with Israelis or Jews in Iran is considered a traitor. In August 2015, a trip to Teheran by Sigmar Gabriel together with the Staatskapelle Berlin (Berlin Orchestra) became the centerpiece of a scandal. The spokesman for the Iranian Ministry of Culture, Hossein Noushabadi, explained at the time that there was a problem with the conductor, whose „nationality and identity“ is associated with Israel. However, the Ministry of Culture offered a compromise:
„The symphony orchestra can replace its conductor and then apply again for admittance to perform in Tehran.“
But back to football. Not only Iran has a problem with Israel, but other countries won’t even tolerate the very existence of Israelis. In January 2017, the Austrian soccer club FC Red Bull Salzburg flew to a training camp in the United Arab Emirates without its Israeli player Munas Dabbur, as the player was denied entry to the country on account of his nationality. The soccer club didn’t seem to have been particularly concerned with the discrimination against one of its own players, because after their arrival a message on their website read: „The Red Bulls arrived in good spirits and are rearing to go.“
Apparently, Munas Dabbur was no longer included on the good-spirited team, although he scored two goals in 15 league games that season, heaving FC Red Bull Salzburg to only 2 points away from the top of the chart. Munas Dabbur is not even Jewish, but is one of those Muslims who make up about 20% of Israeli citizens who all enjoy equal rights.
For the Jew haters in the United Arab Emirates, the hatred of Israel doesn’t even stop at fellow Muslims, especially because their very existence illustrates the fact that peace between Muslims and Israelis is possible. The United Arab Emirates and Iran are members of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). The AFC is part of FIFA. For years, FIFA has tolerated the rejection of Article 3 by member soccer clubs, since many countries organized in the AFC openly discriminate against Israel.
In 1956, the Israeli Soccer Federation joined the AFC. However, countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Indonesia and Sudan refused to play against Israel on the same field. In that year’s qualifying round for the Asian Cup, the Israeli team entered the final round playing South Korea, Hong Kong and South Vietnam per default to finish second. In qualifying for the 1958 World Cup, Israel was to play against Turkey in the preliminary round, but Turkey stepped down. Israel was then to play Indonesia in the intermediate round, but Indonesia stepped down also. Then, Israel was to play against Sudan in the finals, but Sudan stepped down. Israel would have qualified for the World Cup per default, but FIFA had a plan up their sleeves. Israel was to compete against a country from the European runners-up for the last free place. That country was Wales which then eliminated Israel.
Israel has been a member of the AFC for eighteen years. Eighteen years marked by discrimination against Israel on the basis of ethnic origin, religion and politics. Discrimination went so far that the Israeli club even found itself in the Oceania Group during the 1970 competitions, because the AFC refused a World Cup slot for Israel.
In 1974, official discrimination culminated in Israel’s elimination from the AFC at the request of Kuwait. Actually, the boycotters should have been punished for ignoring anti-discrimination statutes, but there was no majority within the AFC.
In 1978, the Israeli Football Association proceeded to apply for membership with the European Football Association (UEFA), but the association rejected the application because Israel is not geographically located in Europe. The Eastern European member states in particular had strictly opposed the Israeli membership. The Soviet Union was not a good friend of Israel at the time. With the collapse of the USSR, however, the situation changed. In 1991, the Israeli national football team was admitted to the European federation and became a full member three years later.
Currently, Jews and Israelis are banned from entering Algeria, Bangladesh, Brunei, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen! Some of those sixteen countries hate Israel so much that they hate everything to do with Israel and therefore do not let Jews from Israel into their country, nor people who have visited Jews in Israel. I’m one of those who are banned entry! Fourteen of these countries are organized in the AFC. Sudan and Algeria belong to the African Football Association (CAF).
Why does the FIFA tolerate such hate? Especially at a time when barrages of rockets and grenades are being fired randomly at Israel and terror kites are sent from the Gaza Strip which are burning up natural preservation areas in southern Israel.
Daniel Tregermann died in 2014 at the age of four years in an attack that was due precisely to the hatred that’s still endangering Israel today. In 2018, people, who do not hate Israel and only want to play football in friendship, will be forced to give up to such hatred.
It’s a complete disgrace that In 2018 Argentina and Lionel Messi were forced to succumb to hatred.