Letter: Removal of UEFA U21 2013 finals from Israel

I refer to our previous correspondence (1). We would appreciate a response and at the same time renew our request previously. We wish to draw to your attention two matters; the first is worsening security.

Recent events in Israel highlight that there may be a real threat to security by hosting games in Israel. In March this year there were riots by three hundred football fans in the Malha Mall in Jerusalem chanting “Death to Arabs!” and “Muhammad is dead!”. Police investigation started six days later; no arrests were made. The Jerusalem Post reported that everyone was aware of the problem of Racism but no-one had been able to come up with a solution.

Respected National footballer Rifaat Turk was quoted as stating that racism is at an all time high amongst players and spectators. He blamed the Israel Football Association.

We believe that this sort of rascist outburst at football matches would put players and spectators at any UEFA games in 2013 at risk of abuse and physical harm.

Our second concern relates more fundamentally to racism and the plight of Palestinian prisoners.  Palestinian national football player Mahmoud Sarsak has remained incarcerated under “administrative detention” without charge or trial since July 2009.  On 17 April 2012 he started a hunger strike and is now in the Ramleh prison clinic.  This fundamental lack of due process is a denial of Human Rights and will concern the European football community at large. By holding the U21 2013 finals in Israel UEFA appears to condone such behaviour and the denial of human rights to Palestinian prisoners and appears complicit in Israel’s actions against the Palestinian citizens, actions which are contrary to International Law.

The reputation of UEFA and its efforts to stamp out racism within football would we submit be irreparably damaged by allowing Israel to host these games while these shadows hang over it.  We therefore request that whilst Israel remains in defiance of International Law and does nothing to deter racism both on and off the pitch the finals of the UEFA under 21 competition in 2013 be moved from Israel to a state which recognises the rule of International Law and does not condone Racism.

Yours sincerely,


Betty Hunter                                                           Ismail Patel

Hon President,                                                      Chairman,

Palestine Solidarity Campaign                          Friends of Al Aqsa

cc UEFA National Association Presidents.
(1) References:

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