Ahead of Israel-Wales game, Welsh city pulls photo show of Jews and Arabs playing soccer together

Move garners condemnation as protests are expected when national soccer teams meet Sunday for UEFA qualifying match in Cardiff.

September 4, 2015 10:29
1 minute read.
israel wales

Israel-Wales Euro 2016 Group B qualifying soccer match at the Sammy Ofer Stadium in Haifa March 28, 2015. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Ahead of a much-anticipated soccer match between Israel and Wales on Sunday in Cardiff, boycotters in the Welsh city have targeted a photography exhibit displaying pictures of Jews and Arabs playing the sport together peacefully.

The Cardiff Council hosted the collection "Jewish-Arab football: diversity and coexistence through lower-league football" at a local library for a mere 24 hours before taking it down, the British Daily Mail reported Friday.

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The exhibition at the Cardiff Library was reportedly targeted because it featured photographs taken in Israel.

The display by photographers Gad Salner and Vadim Tarasov, shows how soccer can be a unifying forces between communities in conflict. The project includes photographs of Christians, Jews and Muslims playing on lower-league soccer teams throughout Israel.

"From forgotten Arab villages in the north to dusty Jewish neighborhoods in the south, we visit places where the seemingly ever-present tension between cultures evaporates, and where diversity is embraced, encouraged and celebrated," the photographers were quoted as saying in a statement.

The Daily Mail cited a Cardiff Council spokesperson as saying the display was pulled from the library in light of a "complaint," adding that planned protests of Sunday's Euro 2016 qualifying match were also taken into consideration.

"Our libraries are buildings which promote free speech, but it was felt that running this exhibition could lead visitors to suppose that the Council was displaying bias," the spokesperson was quoted as saying.

The move has garnered condemnation from city council opposition member Judith Woodman, who has called for an inquiry into what she called the "disgraceful reflection on our city."

"Sport is non-political. We live in a democracy and have freedom of speech. By this action Cardiff Council have totally disregarded this," the Daily Mail quoted her as saying.

Yiftah Curiel, the spokesperson for the Israeli Embassy in London, also condemned the move regarding the visual display.

"This is a boycott against peace and coexistence, in line with the destructive and belligerent aims of the movement to delegitimise Israel," he told the Daily Mail.

In March, Wales beat the blue-and-white 3-0 in a preliminary qualifying match in Haifa for the Union of European Football Associations's (UEFA) upcoming season.

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