Saturday, 20 September 2014

Victory for BDS campaign as UEFA decides against Jerusalem tournament bid


The Union of European Football Associations has rejected an Israeli bid to host games during the 2020 European Championships. The decision follows a campaign by Palestinian sports teams and campaign groups and activists across Europe.

The Israeli Football Association bid to host games in Jerusalem as part of the UEFA 2020 tournament that will take place across 13 cities, but UEFA announced on Friday that Jerusalem was not one of the successful bidders. Israel was one of just 6 countries that failed in its bid to host games.

75 ​Palestinian football teams and NGOs​​ wrote to​ UEFA president Michel​ Platini arguing that holding the UEFA 2020 games in Jerusalem would be tantamount to “rewarding” Israel for its massacre of more than 2,100 Palestinians, including over 500 children, during its recent 52-day assault on Gaza.

Campaigners across Europe pressured UEFA and national football associations not to accept the Israeli bid. Sit-ins were held by Palestine solidarity activists at the headquarters of French and Italian football associations. ​ ​

Abdulrahman Abunahel, the coordinator in Gaza with the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee said:

“Given that awarding Israel the right to host the games would have been a sign of support for Israel’s massacre in Gaza and its war on Palestinian football, UEFA has made the only sensible decision.

“We thank all those who joined us in opposing Israel’s bid to host games in Jerusalem, a city from which Israel is ethnically cleansing Palestinians. Our online campaigning and the occupations of football association buildings in France and Italy undoubtedly played a role in persuading UEFA to to make the right choice.”

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