UEFA’s administration division was charged by the Executive Committee to analyse the 19 bids from cities wanting to hold a EURO 2020 tournament. Our campaign sent the information sheet below to assist administrators.
Potential hosting of EURO 2020 in Jerusalem
Published by the Red Card Israeli Racism campaign, 31 July 2014.
This Information Sheet is to contribute to UEFA’s analysis of hosting capabilities of the various cities bidding to host one of the 13 tournaments in EURO 2020. It is structured, in part, according to the various Sectors of the Technical Requirements (TR) document.
- International political dimension. Sepp Blatter emphasised in October 2013 that “football has a political dimension”. Nowhere is this more important than in Jerusalem. In line with a UN resolution that Jerusalem be an international city, the international community has always rejected the Israeli claim to sovereignty over West Jerusalem, where the EURO 2020 games would be played in the Teddy stadium. By holding the games there rather than another suitable city UEFA would be knowingly taking a purposeful political step in support of Israel’s claim.
- Local political dimension. A UEFA tournament held in Jerusalem would publicly endorse Israeli’s annexation of East Jerusalem into an Israeli-united greater Jerusalem. As you know, this annexation is illegal under international law. Games in Jerusalem would be a powerful snub not only to the international community but to the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian people.
- Fans experience (TR Sector 2). Fans should “experience the values and culture of a country”. Regrettably the Israeli government has a track record of largely ignoring the Palestinian component of Israeli society and culture when welcoming guests. Any honest explanation of the society would have to expose the repressive laws which affect housing and other communal human rights of Palestinians. We cannot believe that the Israeli Government would present an honest view.
- Inclusion of all fans (TR Sector 3). “Inclusion” goals are identified as “Create a positive fan experience..[with] rules on inclusive and equal access to facilities “. De facto there will not be equal access to facilities for Palestinian/Arab fans living in Israel or East Jerusalem. As our personal experience has shown, it is dangerous enough for Palestinians to venture into West Jerusalem where extreme religious Jewish communities can react violently. It would be even more dangerous to attend games at the Teddy stadium, home of the infamous extreme racist La Familia gang. Effectively Israeli and East Jerusalem Palestinians would be excluded from the stadium. Non-white players and fans from European countries would also be likely to suffer abuse. Perhaps more importantly, fans living only 10 km from the stadium, but in the West Bank, towns such as Abu Dis would be totally excluded from attending games if current conditions prevail – which is almost certain. So inclusion goals would not be satisfied.
- Independent reviews (TR Sector 4). “A number of political and economic evaluations are readily available through independent reviews. UEFA plans to use these impartial sources as part of its evaluation of the bid dossiers”. We recommend (a) the reports by European diplomats known as Heads of Mission (HOM) reports,; prime amongst these is the “EU HOMS REPORT ON JERUSALEM 18 March 2014” which is attached, (b) the Mossawa / CAR reports for a clearer view of the racism problems in Israel, and (c) a perceptive analysis of an earlier HOM report is given by award-winning journalist and author Jonathan Cook and an extract is attached.
- Political and football climate (TR Sector 4). This part of Sector 4 addresses the “stability” of the political climate that will be required for smooth execution of a tournament. The instability caused by the recent conflict in Gaza will be at the front of UEFA’s mind, and such flare-ups could of course emerge in 2020 bearing in mind the Israeli government’s current policies. It should also be noted that the institutionalised racism in the State of Israel does not permit a political climate that ensures equal rights for all its citizens. There are presently over 50 laws that discriminate against Palestinians/Arabs in Israel and details are given in the Adalah website. Additionally, anti-Palestinian/Arab sentiments expressed by Israeli politicians, officials and media encourage prejudice in wider society. In this volatile climate, those who call for equal rights and respect for all are accused of anti-semitism, further fuelling and legitimizing racism and hostility. Unfortunately, football has become another conduit for the expression of this racism and hostility, as exemplified by the previously mentioned appalling problem of the Teddy stadium. The Israeli Football Association has done little to ameliorate the situation.
In conclusion, we believe that a choice of Jerusalem as a EURO 2020 host city would effectively reward racial discrimination, support the breach of international law, greatly disadvantage the Palestinian population, and by ignoring the reality on the ground, it would enhance a false image of Israel whilst tarnishing UEFA’s own image.