‘A seriously uncomfortable afternoon’ for Israel’s sporting ambassadors in Scotland

ISRAEL’S state football team had to endure a barrage of pro-Palestinian chanting throughout their 8-0 defeat by Scotland in the Women’s Euro qualifier at Tynecastle on Saturday, June 16th, in a protest aimed at highlighting the injustice of what FIFA president Sepp Blatter termed, Israel’s “alleged illegal detention of Palestine football players.”

According to the Herald on Sunday, “It wasn’t much fun being an Israeli footballer at Tynecastle yesterday. Lashed by the rain, barracked by pro-Palestinian demonstrators – and seven goals down at half-time…against a noisy backdrop of protests about the imprisonment of Palestinian footballers. The Israeli national anthem was jeered, and the players booed…the demonstrators’ chants for Scotland to score 10.”

“Free Mahmoud Sarsak” was interspersed throughout ninety minutes of non-stop chanting with “Without guns, you’re rubbish” and multiple versions of “Boycott apartheid Israel.”  The protestors warned the Scottish players of Israel’s habit of calling in an air strike when losing in a fair fight.

Despite incessant heavy rain, an important demonstration in defence of asylum seekers on the same day, and Lothian and Borders Police reneging on a widely-reported agreement with the protest organisers earlier in the week to allow banners into the stadium, over 150 Scots protested without cease for ninety minutes against Israeli internment of Palestinian football players, and the imprisonment and violation of Palestine. A 2-minute video clip here.

Israel team player Sapir Kadori in her more usual attire

Scotland on Sunday reported that “the Israel side…endured a seriously uncomfortable afternoon. A crowd of about 100 protesters had joined the Tynecastle crowd, protesting against the alleged illegal detention of Palestine footballers. It’s a campaign backed by football legends Eric Cantona and Frederic Kanoute and was highlighted recently by FIFA president Sepp Blatter and by the world players’ union FIFPro. Cantona told UEFA President Michel Platini that Sarsak, “and all victims of abuse by the Israeli state, need our support. It is time to end Israel’s impunity and to insist on the same standards of equality, justice and respect for international law that we demand of other states.” Not only did the protesters boo the Israeli national anthem, they jeered virtually every time one of the visiting players touched the ball and chanted throughout the match.”

After the final whistle, two Israeli officials accompanied a lone player onto the pitch to thank their two remaining supporters. Unable to control his fury, possibly because there were no military checkpoints or even a torture chamber to deal with those who taunt Israeli soldiers, one of the Israeli officials made a middle-finger gesture to the terraces, very poor from a sporting ambassador.  A complaint will be lodged against this official; Scottish club managers have been disciplined for the same offence.

Israel supporters in Tyncastle stadium

Israel had virtually no supporters – pathetically clear from the view of the away fans section.  The increasing reluctance to be seen to be supporting Lieberman and Netanyahu’s apartheid state has been noted by UK Zionists.  In the same way that all events organised by the racist JNF (Jewish National Fund) in London or elsewhere in the UK have to be organised in great secrecy, the same goes for sporting ambassadors of the Israeli state.

Human rights activists and BDS supporters only discovered through the pages of the ultra-Zionist Jewish Telegraph, and after the event, that an Israeli bowling team had played against a Scottish team at Kingswood Bowling Club in Glasgow last week. …

After the match, Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign chair Mick Napier said “most people can be proud to represent their country abroad, but that is certainly not the case for Israel’s sporting ambassadors. Mahmoud Sarsak’s demands are not contentious outside Israel: detained persons should be charged and tried, or released. Otherwise, Israel will have yet another death on its hands. FIFA is right—the situation is urgent.”

Individual Israelis without any record of human rights violation are welcome in Scotland, but any sporting or cultural outfit linked to the apartheid State squeezing the life out of Palestine will most definitely be protested.

Files from the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Short video of the protest:

Media release from the Professional Footballers’ Union, FIFPro, on Mahmoud Sarsak:

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