Six months have passed since the 2011 UEFA Under-21s competition in Denmark and the launch of a campaign to persuade European football’s governing body to reverse its decision granting Israel the junior final in 2013.
Photo: Agence-France Presse
So far UEFA President Michel Platini has stubbornly refused to respond to the appeal last June from 42 football clubs in besieged Gaza, not to reward Israel for its persistent infringements of Palestinian rights.
This is despite a steady stream of protests including a pitch invasion by French protesters, a “Love Football, Hate Apartheid” action in Ireland and publication of a letter signed by high-profile individuals in two leading European newspapers.
“A state that uses military might to hold sway over land it illegally occupies and exploits, flouts international law and ignores UN resolutions surely forfeits the right to be treated as a member of the community of nations,” the letter said.
It called on UEFA to “respond positively” to the appeal from the 42 Gazan football clubs, backed by many sporting bodies.
Supporters of the Red Card Israeli Apartheid campaign are now preparing to ratchet up the action with direct approaches to national football association presidents, supporters clubs and fans.
“UEFA is faced with serious ethical and moral problems by the choice of an Israeli venue for the finals,” said London-based campaign coordinator Geoff Lee. “With all the concern about racism in and around the game at the moment, it’s time to wake up to the fact that Israel’s entrenched discrimination against Palestinians amounts to systematic racism affecting football along with the rest of society.”