Liverpool played host on Tuesday to a member of the Palestinian national football team.
Mahmoud Sarsak is on tour in Britain and Ireland as part of the campaign against holding this year’s mens under-21 championship in Israel.
Mahmoud speaks from experience. In 2009 he was detained without charge in an Israeli jail. He was tortured and spent 18 months in solitary confinement. In 2012 he went on a hunger-strike that lasted 96 days. Only when he was close to death did the Israeli authorities release him.
Mahmoud came out of prison determined to speak out against Israel’s occupation of his homeland. He has become a spokesman for the campaign to remove the forthcoming mens under-21 international football tournament from Israel. On Friday (24 May) he helped to hand in a petition to the UEFA meeting in London.
Speaking at Liverpool Al-Ghazali Centre on Tuesday, Mahmoud paid tribute to Liverpool’s tradition of resisting injustice and called for support for an international boycott of Israel.
Four LIverpool players have been named in the England under-21 squad. While an international call-up is regarded as an honour, the team should not be playing in a country that imprisons fellow-footballers without trial for years on end. A number of senior players have spoken out against holding the tournament in Israel. We hope that the Liverpool players – and others too – will decline to take part unless the tournament is moved to another country.