UEFA President Michel Platini ensured Israel Football Association chairman Avi
Luzon that the 2013 European Under-21 Championship will go ahead as planned in
Israel next summer despite mounting pressure following the jailing of a
Palestinian national team player.
Palestinian FA president Jibril Rajoub
urged UEFA to remove Israel as the host of the tournament last week, with
Palestinian player Mahmoud Sarsak approaching a fourth month on a hunger strike
after being held in administrative detention since 2009.
reports on Monday, Sarsak, who was arrested by the IDF when he arrived at the
Erez border crossing on his way to the West Bank, agreed to end his hunger
strike in exchange for his release on July 10.
Rajoub asked Platini not
to give Israel the “honor” of hosting the Under-21 championship, but the
Frenchman vehemently rejected his request.
“Despite a certain amount of
pressure being put on us, the 2013 European Under-21 Championship will indeed
take place in Israel,” Platini wrote to Luzon.
“UEFA is an apolitical
organization and your association earned the right to host the competition
through a fair, democratic vote.”
Platini also called on Luzon to “alert”
his country’s authorities to the matter.
“I know that you are a man of
dialogue and peace,” Platini wrote from Warsaw where he is attending Euro 2012.
“Every time UEFA has needed you, you have been there to try and find solutions
to complex problems.
“I am now counting on you to act as our intermediary
with the Israeli authorities and, given the urgency of the situation, to do so
as quickly as possible.”
In a letter to Rajoub, Platini criticized the
PFA president, while informing him that the Under-21 Euros will take place in
Israel as scheduled.
“I must just say that I consider it unfortunate and
misplaced to make a letter public before it has even reached the person to whom
it is addressed,” Platini wrote.
“We cannot hold the Israel FA
responsible for the political situation in the region or for legal procedures in
place in its country.”
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