The 2014 under-21 European Championships are supposed to be held in Israel, which is a bit awkward considering it just destroyed a football stadium as a novel new way of expressing its displeasure with the Palestinians. Sport, like art, is of course important to the well being of any peoples and it’s no wonder then that Israel regularly targets both.
To their considerable credit, more than sixty European professional footballers have protested against these acts and urged UEFA to withdrawn the competition from Israel:
We, as European football players, express our solidarity with the people of Gaza who are living under siege and denied basic human dignity and freedom. The latest Israeli bombardment of Gaza, resulting in the death of over a hundred civilians, was yet another stain on the world’s conscience.
We are informed that on 10 November 2012 the Israeli army bombed a sports stadium in Gaza, resulting in the death of four young people playing football, Mohamed Harara and Ahmed Harara, 16 and 17 years old; Matar Rahman and Ahmed Al Dirdissawi, 18 years old.
We are also informed that since February 2012 two footballers with the club Al Amari, Omar Rowis, 23, and Mohammed Nemer, 22, have been detained in Israel without charge or trial.
It is unacceptable that children are killed while they play football. Israel hosting the UEFA Under-21 European Championship, in these circumstances, will be seen as a reward for actions that are contrary to sporting values.
Despite the recent ceasefire, Palestinians are still forced to endure a desperate existence under occupation, they must be protected by the international community. All people have the right to a life of dignity, freedom and security. We hope that a just settlement will finally emerge.