Wednesday, August 31, 2016

French soccer team to be investigated for anti-Israel discrimination

From the Algemeiner:

The decision by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) to investigate a French team for anti-Israel discrimination is a welcome step, an official from the international Jewish human rights organization that had urged the governing soccer body to take action told The Algemeiner on Monday. 

“Politics is a factor in sports, but politicizing it impugns its values of fair-play and the pleasure of the game,” said Dr. Shimon Samuels, director for international relations at the Simon Wiesenthal Center-Europe, who called on UEFA to hold the team St. Etienne accountable for banning Israeli flags during a match last week against Beitar Jerusalem at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard stadium, while allowing French and Palestinian flags to fly. 

In a letter to UEFA’s president on Monday, obtained by The Algemeiner, Samuels demanded that the organization uphold its self-described neutrality on politics and religion, which is “now gravely endangered by Palestinian political agitation among local clubs.”  

“St. Etienne fans were permitted to wave French and Palestinian flags, while the visiting Israeli and Jewish fans were prevented from bringing the Israeli flag into the stadium,” he wrote. “We urge UEFA to protest discrimination and delegitimization of Israel in the banning of its flag. Harsh disciplinary measures must be imposed on St. Etienne by UEFA to show that attacks on fair-play and the values of the beautiful game can not be condoned.” 

In response, the legal affairs division of UEFA’s Disciplinary and Integrity Unit notified Samuels in an email — seen by The Algemeiner — that “disciplinary proceedings have been instigated against AS St. Etienne.” 

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