Reading between the lines: PFA issues statement regarding Abdallah Jaber transfer

After more than a week’s worth of silence, the Palestine Football Association has finally issued a statement regarding Abdallah Jaber’s move to Hapoel Hadera of the Israeli Premier League:

[English Translation]

“PFA Statement issues in regards to the transfer of Abdallah Jaber: 

The PFA would like to wish Abdallah Jaber, the former Hilal Al-Quds and national team player, the best of luck in this new phase of his career. We would like to point out that Jaber rose to the ranks of the national team due to the support he received from the Football Association and Palestinian clubs. Furthermore, we confirm that Abdallah Jaber has the right to play for any club he wishes in line with FIFA governing statues. 

The PFA also confirmed in the press release that Abdallah Jaber was never a leader of the Palestine national football team. The player would have been better served to follow the FIFA statutes in regards to transfers before announcing his move to the new club in light of the changes taking place due to the Coronavirus pandemic.”

There were no additional details in regards to Jaber’s move to Hapoel Hadera and the player’s former club- Hilal Al-Quds- has remained mysteriously silent about the matter.

While the PFA complained that international statutes regarding transfers were not followed, and that the player took advantage of the Coronavirus pandemic to engineer a move, this is not an accurate portrayal of events.

WBPL clubs have operated in less than a professional manner. Many clubs have had trouble paying salaries on time; and this problem became more acute in recent years. In fact, clubs across the WBPL have not paid salaries at all in 2020 which caused the players to take their grievances to the PFA.

In the negotiations, the players were willing to defer salaries for the two month period in which the league was suspended due to coronavirus and requested the clubs to settle debts owed to them through mid-March. The PFA, who was on the hook for the debt owed, instead issued an ultimatum asking players to surrender their rights to the full amount owed to them in return for six weeks of pay.

Going unpaid for two months would allow any WBPL player to void his contract and sign for someone else as per FIFA statutes.

Abdallah Jaber’s contract, like that of many WBPL players, ran through May 31st, 2020. With no extension to cover the league’s postponement, Jaber is legally a free agent as of June 1st. Football leagues around the world had anticipated this problem and released directives to the players and clubs while the PFA resorted to extortion, as noted earlier.

From a contractual standpoint, Abdallah Jaber was free to sign with whomever he liked but to allude to statutes is rather rich consider the PFA’s history of ignoring them.

PFA & ITCs: A Parallel World 

The passive-aggressive tone of the press release is most likely due to the fact that the PFA has been known not to follow the international transfer guidelines themselves. When a player signs from an Israeli club, the PFA does not use the international transfer certificate (ITC) issued by the Israel Football Association. It instead, issues a separate card to the player which has resulted in clubs on either side of the green line ignoring a player’s contractual obligations.

Eight years ago, Jabal El-Mukaber took Ali El-Khatib and Hapoel Haifa to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and while they won the settlement- a payment of NIS 450,000 plus 5% interest after a five year legal saga.

In 2012, FIFA issued a stern warning to the PFA in regards to its behaviour:

  1. “[…] any player who is registered with a club that is affiliated to one association shall not be eligible to play for a club affiliated to a different association unless an ITC has been created/issued by the former association and received by the new association. […] In this co ntext, we kindly inform you that any possible violation of the above mentioned principles would be subject to disciplinary proceedings.

Sources close to Football Palestine  have confirmed that the PFA is still issuing parallel ITCs when signing a Palestinian player from the Israeli leagues. This would help explain why the PFA went on the record to state that Jaber is free to sign with whomever he pleases.

The mischaracterisation of Abdallah Jaber’s role within the national team in an official press release is nothing short of juvenile:
It’s worth noting that Abdallah Jaber is the fifth most capped player (56) in Palestine national team history (the PFA does not keep track of these records).
The left back was a key part of the squad that led Palestine to its first ever Asian Cup by winning the Challenge Cup in May 2014. Four months later, Jaber was again a key member of the U23 side that qualified for the knockout stages of the Asian Games for the first time in its history.
The 27 year old is one of only two players (National Team Captain Abdelatif Bahdari is the other) to have played every minute of all six of Palestine’s games at an Asian Cup finals.

Football Palestine has also learned that Jaber was on a shortlist of three players to replace Abdelatif Bahdari as national team captain following his retirement earlier this year.

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