UEFA urged to remove Israel as under-21 Euro host
Palestine football leaders have urged UEFA to remove Israel as
the 2013 European Under-21 Championship host nation for jailing
Palestine national team players without trial.
Palestine federation president Jibril Rajoub wrote to UEFA
President Michel Platini to say that Israel’s government is in
”direct violation of FIFA regulations.”
”We ask, your excellency, to not give Israel the honor to host
the next UEFA Under-21 Championship,” Rajoub said, in a letter
seen by The Associated Press on Thursday. ”We are deeply concerned
about the situation of our footballers.”
UEFA declined official comment.
Israel is set to stage the eight-nation tournament across four
venues from June 5 to 18 next year.
The UEFA executive committee voted for Israel in January 2011
over competing bids from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, England and
Rajoub is pressuring Platini to intervene on Palestine’s behalf
as player Mahmoud Sarsak approaches a fourth month on a hunger
Israel has jailed Sarsak for three years as an ”illegal
combatant” after he was stopped at a Gaza Strip checkpoint while
traveling to an international match, Rajoub said.
”For athletes in Palestine, there is no real freedom of
movement, and the risks of being detained or even killed are always
looming before their eyes,” he wrote.
Rajoub’s letter named two other players, Omar Rweis and Mohammad
Nimer, who are also being held without trial.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter and the global network of players’
unions, FIFPro, support Sarsak’s case.
Blatter wrote to Israel football president Avi Luzon this week
asking for ”urgent” help to press government authorities for