Should footballers really be getting involved in the Israel-Palestinian problem?
Whether you agree or disagree with that issue, the matter is now somewhat mute as former West Ham and Tottenham striker Freddie Kanoute – a well-known devout Muslim – has lead a campaign slamming Uefa’s decision to host the 2013 Under-21 European Championships in the Holy Land.
The list of signatories to the campaign is long and powerful.
Eden Hazard of Chelsea, Abou Diaby of Arsenal, Didier Drogba, and Newcastle’s Papiss Cissé, Cheick Tioté, Sylvain Marveaux, Yohan Cabaye and Demba Ba have all penned their name to the protest, while footballers in France, China, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Turkey have also joined the anti-Israel campaign.
Those upset with the Kanoute-lead protest have several bones of contention.
Firstly the petition fails to recognise any suffering of innocents in Israel.
Secondly, many argue that important civil rights abuses take place in Qatar, the future hosts of the 2022 World Cup, including infringements on freedom of speech, women’s rights and homosexuality rights. Accordingly, why aren’t Kanoute and is fellow signatories talking about those problems also?
Obviously these issues is likely to get many charged up and angry, and we would kindly ask that comments to this post be kept respectful and tolerant.
The following article, including the long list of footballers who have pledged their names to the cause, was posted on Kanoute.com on Thursday.
We, as European football players, express our solidarity with the people of Gaza who are living under siege and denied basic human dignity and freedom. The latest Israeli bombardment of Gaza, resulting in the death of over a hundred civilians, was yet another stain on the world’s conscience.
We are informed that on 10 November 2012 the Israeli army bombed a sports stadium in Gaza, resulting in the death of four young people playing football, Mohamed Harara and Ahmed Harara, 16 and 17 years old; Matar Rahman and Ahmed Al Dirdissawi, 18 years old.
We are also informed that since February 2012 two footballers with the club Al Amari, Omar Rowis, 23, and Mohammed Nemer, 22, have been detained in Israel without charge or trial.
It is unacceptable that children are killed while they play football. Israel hosting the UEFA Under-21 European Championship, in these circumstances, will be seen as a reward for actions that are contrary to sporting values.
Despite the recent ceasefire, Palestinians are still forced to endure a desperate existence under occupation, they must be protected by the international community. All people have the right to a life of dignity, freedom and security. We hope that a just settlement will finally emerge.
Gael Angoula, Bastia Sporting Club (France)
Karim Ait-Fana, Montpellier HSC (France)
André Ayew, Olympique de Marseille (France)
Jordan Ayew, Olympique de Marseille (France)
Demba Ba, Newcastle United (UK)
Abdoulaye Baldé, AC Lumezzane (Italia)
Chahir Belghazouani, AC Ajaccio (France)
Leon Best, Blackburn Rovers Football Club (UK)
Ryad Boudebouz, Football Club Sochaux Montbéliard (France)
Yacine Brahimi, Granada Football Club (Spain)
Jonathan Bru, Melbourne Victory (Australia)
Yohan Cabaye, Newcastle United (UK)
Aatif Chahechouche, Sivasspor Kulübü (Turkey)
Pascal Chimbonda, Doncaster Rovers Football Club (UK)
Papiss Cissé, Newcastle United (UK)
Omar Daf, Football Club Sochaux Montbéliard (France)
Issiar Dia, Lekhwiya (Qatar)
Abou Diaby, Arsenal Football Club (UK)
Alou Diarra, Olympique de Marseille (France)
Soulaymane Diawara, Olympique de Marseille (France)
Samba Diakité, Queens Park Rangers (UK)
Pape Diop, West Ham United (UK)
Abdoulaye Doucouré, Stade Rennais Football Club (France)
Didier Drogba, Shanghaï Shenhua (China)
Ibrahim Duplus, Football Club Sochaux Montbéliard (France)
Soudani El-Arabi Hilal, Vitoria Sport Club Guimares (Portugal)
Jires Kembo Ekoko, Al Ain Football Club (United Arab Emirates)
Nathan Ellington, Ipswich Town Football Club (UK)
Rod Fanni, Olympique de Marseille (France)
Doudou Jacques Faty, Sivassport Kulübü (Turkey)
Ricardo Faty, AC Ajaccio (France)
Chris Gadi, Olympique de Marseille (France)
Remi Gomis, FC Valenciennes (France)
Florent Hanin, SC Braga (Portugal)
Eden Hazard, Chelsea Football Club (UK)
Charles Kaboré, Olympique de Marseille (France)
Diomansy Kamara, Eskisehispor Kulübü (Turkey)
Frédéric Kanouté, Beijin Guoan (China)
Anthony Le Tallec, AJ Auxerre (France)
Djamal Mahamat, Sporting Braga (Portugal)
Steve Mandanda, Olympique de Marseille (France)
Kader Manganne, Al Hilal Riyad Football Club (Saudi Arabia)
Sylvain Marveaux, Newcastle United (UK)
Nicolas Maurice-Belay, FC Girondins de Bordeaux (France)
Cheikh M’bengué, Toulouse Football Club (France)
Jérémy Menez, Paris Saint-Germain Football Club (France)
Arnold Mvuemba, Olympique Lyonnais (France)
Laurent Nardol, Chartres Football Club (France)
Mahamadou N’diaye, Vitoria Sport Club Guimares (Portugal)
Mamadou Niang, Al-Sadd SC (Qatar)
Mbaye Niang, SM Caen (France)
Fabrice Numeric, FK Slovan Duslo Sala (Slovakia)
Billel Omrani, Olympique de Marseille (France)
Lamine Sané, FC Girondins de Bordeaux (France)
Mamady Sidibé, Stoke City Football Club (UK)
Momo Sissoko, Paris Saint-Germain Football Club (France)
Cheikh Tioté, Newcastle United (UK)
AdamaTraoré, Melbourne Victory (Australia)
Armand Traoré, Queen Park Rangers FC (UK)
Djimi Traore, Olympique de Marseille (France)
Moussa Sow, Fenerbahçe Spor Kulübü (Turkey)
Hassan Yebda, Granada Football Club (Spain)