FIFA president Gianni Infantino wrote to the Israel and Palestine football federations Friday, offering his condolences for the “horrendous violence” over the past week in a conflict that has taken over 2,700 lives and injured thousands more.
In the letter first reported by Sky News, Infantino and world football’s governing body called for “the immediate end of hostilities and for the immediate relief of the suffering of the people of both Israel and Palestine,” and said football can be a “vehicle for peace.”
Infantino’s letter read: “It is as heart-breaking as it is shocking to see a region, whose people have known such profound suffering over far too long, suffer even more.
“Of course, we know that football cannot solve the problems of the World, but it can play even a small part in bringing a light of hope where there appears to be only darkness ahead,” Infantino added.
“Football shows that it is possible to bring people together in an environment of mutual respect, acting as a vehicle for peace and, eventually, reconciliation, even when this may have seemed impossible to all but a few.
“I would like to stress that FIFA will do whatever we possibly can to assist you in your relief efforts and to restoring peace and hope to your people now and into the future.”
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin sent a similar letter to Shino Moshe Zuares, president of the Israeli FA, on Thursday, saying “the pain and sorrow are profound and resonate across the entire football community.”
The letters come after Hamas, an Islamist militant group that governs Gaza, launched an attack on Israel on Saturday. Israel formally declared war on Hamas a day later.
UEFA has postponed Israel’s European Championship qualifying games against Switzerland and Kosovo, due to take place place Thursday and Sunday, respectively.
Israel are now due to play three Euro 2024 qualifiers in the one-week international break next month designed for just two games.