Wed 13th June 2012

Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign: Media Release

CANTONA & FIFA CONDEMN ISRAEL OVER "ALLEGED ILLEGAL DETENTION" OF PALESTINIAN FOOTBALLERS

The president of FIFA, Sepp Blatter, has called on Israel to end its apparent human rights violations in relation to the detention without charge or trial of a number of Palestinian national football team players.

Blatter is particularly concerned about 25 year-old Mahmoud Sarsak, who has been on hunger strike for around 90 days in protest at his indefinite "administrative detention". Doctors say that Sarsak, who was arrested 3 years ago while on his way to play for the national team, is on the verge of death.

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A statement by FIFA "urgently" calls on the Israeli Football Association to lobby Israeli authorities to ensure "the physical integrity of the concerned players as well as their right for due process."

Amnesty International also criticised Israel for its use of administrative detention "to suppress legitimate and peaceful activities in the Palestinian territories".

Additionally, football legend Eric Cantona and the anti-racist campaign, Show Racism the Red Card, have co-signed a statement condemning the "racism, human rights abuses and gross violations of international law" they say are daily occurrences in Israel. "It is time to end Israel's impunity and to insist on the same standards of equality, justice and respect for international law that we demand of other states", they write.

FIFPro, the professional footballers union, said other Palestinian players are also "suffering from the actions of the Israeli government". Philippe Piat, FIFPro's vice-president, said that while FIFA requires that players be permitted to play for their national team, many Palestinian players "cannot cross the border. They cannot visit their family. They are locked up. This is an injustice.'

Sarsak's condition is likely to swell the protests set for this Saturday's Scotland v Israel UEFA women's under-21 match at Edinburgh's Tynecastle Stadium. Protest organisers, Friends of Al-Aqsa Scotland, and the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC), say there should be no business as usual for Israel's national teams while Israel denies Palestinians the same privileges.

ENDS

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 across Scotland and individual members elsewhere.

For further information, contact:
SPSC Chair, Mick Napier: 0131 620 0052; 07958002591
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Website: www.scottishpsc.org.uk

2. FIFA statement:
http://www.fifa.com/aboutfifa/organisation/footballgovernance/news/newsid=1648346/index.html

3. Statement co-signed by Eric Cantona, Show Racism the Red Card, and others:
http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/cantona-fifa-join-pressure-israel-hunger-striker-mahmoud-sarsak-determined-reach

4. Media release from the Professional Footballers' Union, FIFPro, on Mahmoud Sarsak:
http://www.fifpro.org/news/news_details/1954

5. Amnesty International's "Starved of Justice" report is cited in the Guardian, 6 June 2012,
"Palestinian footballer's hunger strike sparks fears for his life":
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jun/06/palestinian-hunger-strike-fears-life

6. Government-sanctioned racism in Israel:
Guardian, 31 May 2012, "Interior minister Eli Yishai uses interview to suggest many African migrants are criminals infected with HIV":
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/may/31/israeli-minister-racial-tensions-infiltrators

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