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Published On: Sat, Sep 20th, 2014

UEFA rejects Israel as Host for 2020 European Championships

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nsnbc : The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) decided to reject an Israeli bid to host the 2020 European Championships. The decision comes after UEFA President Michel Platini, in 2010, said Israel must allow Palestinian sport to continue to prosper, or face the consequences. 

The decision came also after intense lobbying from the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign that calls for international initiatives against Israel in response to Israel’s continued occupation of Palestine, settlement policy, and discrimination against Palestinians as well as Arab Israelis and other minorities which it compares to South Africa’s apartheid. The BDS campaign is supported by world renown celebrities such as Nobel Peace laureate Bishop Desmond Tutu from South Africa.

Brazil_soccerThe 2020 Championships will take place in 13 cities. On Friday, the UEFA announced that it had turned down the Israeli Football Association’s bid to host some of the matches in Jerusalem. Israel was one out of only six countries whose bid was turned down.

The international BDS campaign writes on its website that 75 Palestinian football teams and NGOs wrote to UEFA President Michel Platini, stressing that holding the 2020 games in Jerusalem would be tantamount to rewarding Israel for its massacre on more than 2,100 Palestinians, including more than 500 children during its 2014 assault on the Gaza Strip.

The coordinator of the BDS campaign in Gaza, Abdulrahman Abunahel, commented on the situation of Palestinian athletes, saying:

“Israel has launched a war on football in Palestine: footballers have been killed, stadiums bombed and players have been refused permission to travel to matches. UEFA must suspend the membership the Israeli Football Association if it continues to maintain its links with the Israeli state that practices occupation, colonisation and apartheid.”

Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Image, wikimedia.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Image, wikimedia.

The BDS campaign has partly be criticized for including an academic boycott, or as now a boycott that encompasses sport. UEFA’s decision is, without doubt, a controversial one. Nobel Peace laureate, Bishop Desmond Tutu from South Africa, commented on the BDS campaign earlier, saying:

“In South Africa, we could not have achieved our democracy without the help of people around the world, who through the use of non-violent means, such as boycotts and divestment, encouraged their governments and other corporate actors to reverse decades-long support for the Apartheid regime. …

The beautiful game, as football or soccer often is called, has without doubt a better chance to remain beautiful when the athletes don’t play on a killing field, say some, others would say that sports and politics should remain separate entities.

F/AK nsnbc – 20.09.2014

 

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