UEFA: Israel to host tourney despite PA pressure

Platini ensures Luzon that Under-21 Championship will go ahead as planned despite jailed Palestinian player's hunger strike.

Platini Luzon 311  (photo credit: MK Productions)
Platini Luzon 311
(photo credit: MK Productions)
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.
According to 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.”