Soccer legend Eric Cantona has co-signed a letter with other international figures to call for the release of Palestinian player Mahmud Sarsak, who is on hunger strike in an Israeli prison.
In a letter sent to UEFA President Michel Platini, the former Manchester United star said Israel should be subjected to the same scrutiny faced by Euro 2012 hosts Poland and Ukraine.
“Why are these same groups silent when Israel is to host the UEFA Under 21s competition in 2013? Racism, human rights abuses and gross violations of international law are daily occurrences in that country,” the letter said.
“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,” Cantona continued. The player participated in a Beach Soccer tournament in Israel five years ago.
Also joining the campaign to release Sarsak is former Seville striker Frédéric Kanouté. The player called to grant Sarsak “the right to a fair and independent trial.”
The Palestinian Football Union Association has asked UEFA to bar Israel from hosting the 2013 European Under-21 Championship over its detention without trial of Palestinian players. In a letter to UEFA President Michel Platini, PFA President Jibril Rajoub pleaded with him not to give Israel the honor of hosting the Competition.
The Israeli Football Association officially responded: “We are certain that FIFA and UEFA will not mix politics with football, and that the under 21 event will be held next summer in Israel as planned.”