Ethiopian athletes coerced to attend event with Benjamin Netanyahu
Players were threatened that if they didn't attend, they and possibly their team would be punished; both the league and the Likud denied any political connection.
By JERUSALEM POST STAFF
Players from the Israeli-Ethiopian Futsal (indoor soccer) league were invited to attend an event that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would be attending, celebrating 20 years of the founding of the league.According to Ynet, the players received a threat from their coach that if any of the players were to choose not to attend, they, as well as their team, would be punished. According to the text they received, the punishments included:1. Eliminating the player who did not attend from playing for the rest of the season,2. Deducting points from a team's victories, and3. Those who arrive with less than half their team: elimination from the league.AdvertisementThe teams were also told to avoid any and all political statements.Head of the Ethiopian league, Tzahi Azaria, responded by saying that Netanyahu was not initially supposed to participate in the event, and was only invited after the league spoke with Gadi Yevarkan. an Ethiopian former Blue and White MK who is now running on the Likud's list. "We told all league players that attendance in all events is mandatory, not just in soccer games," Azaria said. "We make all players attend other events and our message was sent long before Prime Minister Netanyahu confirmed his arrival. Anyone who's in the league must attend. The event has nothing to do with politics or the Likud.""There was no connection between messages sent to the players by the organizing body and the participation of Prime Minister Netanyahu as a guest in the event," a spokesperson for the Likud Party responded.MK Pnina Tamano-Shata of Blue and White responded, saying that, "this is extortion during election time."
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