Euro 2020 (closed)

Result:  The campaign objective of exclusion of the IFA from hosting any Euro 2020 tournament was realised on 19 September 2014 when UEFA announced the chosen host cities.  The list did not include Jerusalem.  This was RCIR’s first major success.


In 2013 UEFA chose a new format for its major Euro 2020 competition:  twelve mini tournaments held in different cites and then a larger finals tournament in a thirteenth city.  On 14 April 2014 nineteen FAs submitted bids for host cities, including the Israeli FA for (West) Jerusalem.  UEFA’s Administration Group then analysed the bids and produced an Evaluation Report.


The decision by the UEFA Executive Committee was announced at a Press Conference with the following results:

Finals:  London;     Quarter finals:  Munich, Baku, St Petersburg, Rome

Round of 16:  Amsterdam, Bilbao, Brussels, Bucharest, Budapest, Copenhagen, Dublin, Glasgow.

Campaign Strategy (see also posts) 

14 March:   Wrote to all UEFA member associations arguing for exclusion of Israeli hosting of any UEFA competitions in any city.

30 April:    Archbishop Tutu and twenty four other Russell Tribunal and PSC Patrons wrote to the Independent newspaper calling for Israeli venue to be excluded from EURO 2020.

6 May:       Wrote to home nation FAs to  support exclusion on Israel from EURO 2020

16 May:     Frederic Kanoute supported the exclusion of Israel from hosting EURO 2020

16 July:    Wrote to home nation FAs to call for Israel’s exclusion from EURO 2020

31 July:    Sent “Information Sheet” (see below) to the UEFA administration giving detailed arguments for exclusion of a Jerusalem venue .

11 August: Wrote to UEFA Executive Committee members calling for Israeli exclusion, forwarding the Information Sheet.

10 September:  BNC published an open letter from twenty two Palestinian Groups calling for exclusion of Jerusalem.

15 September:  RCIR send out a BNC e-action letter to its large email lists

Also during August a number of European groups  took action by contacting their national FAs and requesting their support.  Norwegian and Italian groups managed to get face to face meetings with FA officials, which is a very impressive result.  A French group held a sit in at their FA’s offices.

Furthermore, our campaign contacted a number of journalists during August/September and articles were published by Adri Nieuwhof in Electonic Intifada, Annie Robbins in Mondoweiss and James Dorsey in Singapore.

Information Sheet:  

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 to be 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 given by award-winning journalist and author Jonathan Cook and an extract is attached.
  6. 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.

Extract from Jonathan Cook’s article on conditions inside Israel as given in a confidential EU Heads of Mission report.

The [Heads of Mission] document, which warned that the chances of a two-state solution were rapidly fading, appeared to reflect mounting exasperation among the 27 European member states at Israel’s refusal to revive talks with the Palestinians.  [Text omitted]

Last month Lieberman also expressed outrage at another secret EU report, this one a draft by European embassies in Israel on an even more sensitive subject – Israel’s Palestinian minority. The paper, which was completed in November, was leaked to Haaretz late last month. The Israeli foreign ministry accused the EU of drafting it “behind our backs”.

The 27-page report breaks new ground in proposing that the EU play a central part in protecting the interests of Palestinians within Israel’s borders rather than only in the occupied territories.

It catalogues widespread discrimination in education, employment, housing and access to land, notes a surge in legislative proposals targeting the Palestinian minority and “a political climate in which discriminatory rhetoric and practice go unsanctioned.

It suggests that Israel’s treatment of its Palestinian citizens should move from being “second tier to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” to a “core issue.” It adds that Israel’s obligation to “ensure the equality of all its citizens” cannot wait on a revival of the stalled peace process. Tackling inequality, it concludes, “is integral to Israel’s long-term stability.”

A long list of recommendations for the EU to implement include lobbying against discriminatory laws, encouraging greater investment by European hi-tech firms in Arab areas, ensuring each European state “adopts” an Arab community, and awarding more scholarships for Arab students.

According to the Israeli media, several EU states, including the Netherlands, objected to these recommendations, but appear to have the backing of many key states.

The proposal to step up EU involvement inside Israel is particularly controversial given that Israel has vehemently objected in recent months to European funding of local human rights groups that assist Palestinians inside both Israel and the occupied territories.  The cabinet has given its support to legislation that would severely limit foreign donations – chiefly from the EU – to such groups and heavily tax any remaining funding. Netanyahu put the bills on hold last month after coming under fierce criticism from Washington and Europe.

(For a general description of the restrictions under which Palestinian footballers play access Palestine, Israel and the beautiful game)

Brief outline of arguments against hosting by Jerusalem:

No Euro 2020 Matches in a City of Hatred.  Jerusalem today is a city of hatred. Hatred of Palestinian Arabs. Its Arab residents face ever-escalating levels of racist violence. They are afraid to enter Jewish areas of the city. On 2nd July Muhammed Abu Khudair was kidnapped and murdered with appalling brutality. He was 16. Three alleged members of La Familia – the extremist football gang linked to Beitar Jerusalem FC – are facing trial for the crime.” The current upsurge in terror across Israel has been whipped up by politicians and by the slaughter in Gaza. But the Israel FA must bear its share of the blame – it has consistently failed to combat racist violence in
Israeli football, especially at Beitar Jerusalem.

No Euro 2020 Matches at the Teddy Stadium – the Home Ground of Hatred.  How can Palestinians
possibly attend matches at the home ground of Beitar Jerusalem? They would be risking violent attack.  UEFA must not reward La Familia for extremist violence. It must not reward Beitar Jerusalem for failing to hire a single Arab ever, in violation of employment law. It must not reward the Israel FA for its years of indifference and neglect. UEFA must not signal approval of the city’s climate of hatred and terror.

No Euro 2020 Matches in an Annexed City.  No country accepts the Israeli claim to sovereignty over
West Jerusalem, its annexation of East Jerusalem, or the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian land in order to cut Jerusalem off from the West Bank. The European Union has repeatedly emphasised the importance of the city to a future Palestinian state. UEFA must not signal approval of Israel’s criminal land-grabs.

Stand Up for Humanity, Equality and Fair Play.  Former Israel player Mordechai Spiegler backs the country’s Euro 2020 bid. He says that “We are capable to show the world that Israel is not a
war country – it’s a normal sport country.” He is wrong.  Israel has just slaughtered 2,000 people in its attack on Gaza. The UN has launched an inquiry into its recent war crimes. Israel has over 50 laws that discriminate against its own Arab citizens. The UN has confirmed that it is breaching the international prohibition of apartheid. Israel is not a normal country. It does not deserve to host international sporting events. UEFA must stand up for its own principles – of humanity, equality
and fair play.

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