On Friday, Union of European Football Associations and its member associations issued a resolution highlighting European football’s commitment and determination towards eliminating racism from the sport.
The resolution was passed during the XXXVII Ordinary UEFA Congress in London. The conference urged players and coaches to contribute in the cause and also called on referees to stop and even abandon matches in case of incidents involving racism. The Congress resolution has been revised for tougher regulations against racial discrimination.
This is indeed a positive step taken by the UEFA to curb the increasing problem of racism in the sport but there are some who have quite rightly pointed out the irony of it.
According to an open letter, the very organization which is striving to eradicate the evil of discrimination from football has decided to hold its prestigious football competition in the most racist country of the world i.e. Israel.
The next European Under 21 football championship is due next month in Israel. Ever since its announcement there have been frequent pleas, requests, petitions and protests against UEFA’s decision calling on the association to take back its decision and change the venue from Israel.
A petition in 2012 was also submitted on change.org pressing the UEFA President Michel Platini to remove UEFA 2013 European Under-21 Championship from Israel. So far the online petition has been able to gather only 8000 signatures in a year.
This issue has been reignited after an open letter submitted to The Guardian signed by prominent names such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Frédéric Kanouté Footballer, Caryl Churchill Playwright, Rev Garth Hewitt, Dr Ghada Karmi, Bruce Kent, Roger Lloyd Pack Actor, Ken Loach Film-maker and many several more people.
Following the UEFA resolution on Friday the letter underlined, “It is shocking that this same organization shows total insensitivity to the blatant and entrenched discrimination inflicted on Palestinian sportsmen and women by Israel.”
“UEFA should not allow Israel to use a prestigious football occasion to whitewash its racist denial of Palestinian rights and its illegal occupation of Palestinian land. We call on UEFA, even at this late stage, to reverse the choice of Israel as a venue.”
Moreover, three people including one woman sneaked into the post-UEFA Congress dinner and staged a protest against the Association for holding the Under 21 tournament in Israel.
Comment from the UEFA is yet to be received.