On Friday, 24 May, protestors from several European countries will assemble outside UEFA’s annual congress to call for the cancelation of Israel as location for the European Under-21 football championship. The European football’s governing body awarded Israel the prestigious tournament despite the country’s systematic violation of Palestinians’ rights.
The rally outside Grosvenor House hotel, the venue of the UEFA meeting, will last from 11am til 3pm. At approximately 2pm a protest march outside companies which are complicit in the Israeli occupation will join the rally at Grosvenor House hotel for a mass gathering. The protest march starts at noon near the main entrance of St. Pancras station. There will be live music, red cards, footballs and goals. Protestors are requested to bring or wear football shirts (see here for more information).
Geoffrey Lee, coordinator of the Red Card Israeli Racism campaign, stated that UEFA should follow the example of Stephen Hawking, who pulled out of an international conference in Israel because of its treatment of Palestinians. UEFA should “refuse to be part of one of Israel’s window-dressing exercises,” he said. “If we condemn racist chanting against black players in Europe, why do we condone a whole system of racism against Palestinians, created and enforced by successive Israeli governments?”
On 15 May, the Dutch umbrella boycott campaign docP, part of the European Red Card Israeli Racism initiative, staged a protest prior to the UEFA Cup final in Amsterdam together with its affiliated organizations.
Spokesperson Benji de Levie said during the protest that Israel’s systematic rights violations “are inconsistent with UEFA’s and the Netherlands Football Association KNVB’s propagated values of FairPlay, fraternization and anti-discrimination. We call on UEFA to cancel the choice of Israel. At the same time we call the KNVB to withdraw the Dutch national team from the tournament as example for other countries.”
De Levie announced that the KNVB board will discuss a letter of 2 April in which docP called on the Dutch football association KNVB to withdraw the Dutch national team from the tournament in Israel. The group mentioned the systematic discrimination against Palestinians in Israel and in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.