Players from Europe’s major leagues have signed a petition against Israel hosting the Under-21 European championship next year.
The statement from the players condemns the Israeli assault on Gaza, describing it as ‘yet another stain on the world’s conscience’ and expresses ‘solidarity with the people of Gaza who are living under siege and denied basic human dignity and freedom’.
Eden Hazard, Yohan Cabaye and Abou Diaby are among several English Premier League players to have pledged their support to the campaign, which also criticises Israel’s continued detention without charge of two Palestinian footballers.
Former Manchester United star Eric Cantona wrote to tournament organisers earlier this year over the detention without trial of Palestinian footballers.
“Racism, human rights abuses and gross violations of international law are daily occurrences in that country,” he wrote.
“It is time to end Israel’s impunity and to insist on the same standards of equality, justice and respect for international law that we demand of other states.”
The Palestinian Football Association president, Jibril Rajoub, also wrote to UEFA president Michel Platini earlier this year to say Israel was in breach of FIFA regulations because of its treatment of Palestinian footballers.
Platini has so far rejected the call to move the competition away from Israel.
“You know better than anyone that it is not by punishing people and isolating them that we achieve our aims. It is through dialogue that solutions are found,” he said.