Palestinian footballer Mahmoud Sarsak presenting the Rivals4Charity trophy to  Hibs Skipper Frankie Arthur
NO EMBARGO: Saturday 1st June 2013

Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign: Media Release


A Palestinian national footballer who had last year been on the verge of death after a three-month hunger strike was back to fitness on Saturday as he presented Hibs with the Edinburgh Rivals4Charity trophy at Tynecastle after their 3:0 defeat of Hearts.

Mahmoud Sarsak had been a leading player in the Palestinian team before he was arrested and jailed for three years without charge by Israel in 2009, but had lost half his body weight when he was eventually released after an international outcry over his treatment. Calls on Israel by the likes of football legend Eric Cantona, FIFA President Sepp Blatter, and campaign groups Amnesty International and Show Racism the Red Card to either charge Sarsak or release him added to the pressure on Israel to unconditionally release the player in July last year.

While Sarsak was released however, other Palestinians, including footballers and other sports teams remain in Israeli jails without charge or trial.

Sarsak is currently touring the UK to highlight the growing campaign to convince UEFA to reverse its plan to allow Israel to host the upcoming Under-21 European football championships. The player has support from the likes of Frederic Kanoute and anti-apartheid legend Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who were amongst a range of dignitaries who recently told UEFA that it should not be “rewarding Israel's cruel and lawless behaviour by granting it the honour of hosting the European Under-21 finals next month.”

Sarsak visits the Gaza stadium bombed by Israel in Dec 2012
After Israel destroyed Gaza’s national stadium in December last year, FIFA’s Sepp Blatter appeared to indicate that Israel’s hosting of the tournament could be in doubt, telling the BBC’s World Service: “football stadiums being bombed in Gaza and then hosting… being allowed to host a tournament don’t quite fit together.” Although Blatter vowed to ensure the rebuilding of the bombed stadium however, indications are that UEFA has thus far not reversed its plans to allow Israel to host the championships.

Tournament organisers said that they were honoured that Mahmoud had taken time out to present the medals at the charity event. Scott Moncrieff said “Scotland is trying hard to eradicate racism from our terraces, and clearly Mahmoud’s campaign deserves the support of anti-racists everywhere.”

Sarsak will be promoting his anti-racist campaign at a range of open public meetings throughout Scotland, including in Edinburgh’s Quaker Meeting House at 7pm on Tuesday 11th June. Details of other venues are available on the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign Website:


Photos, free to use here:

Notes for editors:

1. The Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign started in autumn 2000 in response to the Palestinian second uprising against Israeli occupation (Intifada). The SPSC has branches and groups of supporters in several Scottish cities and universities, as well as individual members across Scotland and elsewhere.

For further information, contact:
Sofiah MacLeod, Campaigns Officer: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; 0131 620 0052; 0793100361


2. Details of the Edinburgh Rivals charity match can be found here:

3. Letter from Tutu etc. to UEFA calling on it to relocate the Under-21 European finals away from Israel:

The Guardian, UEFA insensitivity to Palestinians' plight, 27th May 2013

4. FIFA statement urging an end to Israel’s “Alleged illegal detainment of Palestine football players” including Sarsak, 12 June 2012:

5. Eric Cantona and Amnesty International on Palestinian detainees including Sarsak:

Ooh Ahh: Cantona calls for release of Palestinian footballer, 13 June 2012

6. Show Racism the Red Card on Sarsak:

7. FIFA’s Sepp Blatter on the bombing of Gaza’s football stadia and his questioning of Israel chances of hosting the U21 championships:

8. Details of public Meetings by Sarsak in Scotland can be found here:

Sun June 2                   Reception for Mahmoud at Fatma Restaurant, 6.00pm

Tues June 4                 Stop the JNF protest at Cowan's Law - all day

Thurs June 6                Inverness - Spectrum Centre 7.30

Fri June 7                     Aberdeen - Quaker Meeting Hall  7.30pm

Sat June 8                    Glasgow - details from Matt 07919 963 764

Mon June 10               Dundee - Dundee Community Centre, Guthrie Street 7.30pm

Tues June 11               Edinburgh - Quaker Meeting Hall, Victoria Terr 7.00 for 7.30pm

Wed June 12               Stirling - Raploch Community Centre

Thurs June 13              Falkirk - St Francis Xavier Church Hall  7.00 for 7.30pm

Fri June 14                   Fife - Sarsak hosted by Fife Arab Society, 3.30pm

Sat June 15                  Glasgow          - joint activity with Lajee group; football match fund-raiser

Sun June 16                 Combruith Hostel, Comrie - SPSC residential weekend to participate in discussion on Palestinian prisoners and campaigning

9. Guardian, 6 June 2012, “Palestinian footballer's hunger strike sparks fears for his life”:


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