The campaign wrote to UEFA’s President Platini and all member associations on 17 December 2013 as follows:
In June 2013, UEFA held the finals of its Men’s Under 21 tournament in Israel despite widespread calls to change the venue because of Israeli racism against Palestinians, which the UN calls “tantamount to Apartheid”.
Yet UEFA is once again planning to condone Israeli racism by allowing Israel to host UEFA’s 2015 Women’s Under 19 finals.
Throughout Europe, commercial and cultural initiatives to demand change in Israel’s repressive policies are growing in size and strength. Sport can play a similar role. You yourself, in September 2010, recognized the impact of the restrictions on movement on the ability of Palestinian footballers to play the game. We, therefore, urge UEFA to move the proposed 2015 Women’s Under 19 Finals to another country.
Public criticism of UEFA has been voiced by several eminent figures including the late Stephane Hessell (co-author of the UN Human Rights Charter) and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Frederick Kanoute and 52 other international footballers added their voices. Former French minister Marie-George Buffet stressed the importance of sport’s “moral code” and said that holding the Men’s Under 21 finals in Israel was “incompatible with sporting values”.
Israeli repression of Palestinians has not eased. The picture painted at a UN meeting by the Russell Tribunal on Palestine on 29 November 2012 is still valid:
- Over sixty racially discriminatory laws against Palestinian citizens of Israel. International law on the treatment of minorities is disregarded.
- Ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, which peaked in 1948, continues apace today, most notably in the Negev where the Prawer Plan aims to remove some 40,000 Palestinians.
- In the West Bank, “collective punishment” deprives Palestinians of basic rights to health, education, movement and above all water; Gaza is a prison.
If UEFA takes a principled stand and transfers the 2015 Women’s Under 19 finals, it will demonstrate a strong commitment to the values football claims to holds dear.