Footballers back Israel boycott call for 2013 tournament

By Jennifer Lipman, December 1, 2012

Premier League stars are among those who have backed a call for Israel to be barred from hosting next summer’s European under-21 football championship.

Arsenal player Abou Diaby, along with Chelsea’s Eden Hazard, offered his name in support of the demand for Israel to be stripped of its hosting duties.

The 62 signatories said Israel should not be hosting the competition because it would be "seen as a reward for actions that are contrary to sporting values.”

The statement urged UEFA to reconsider in the wake of the recent fighting in Gaza, which was described as “yet another stain on the world's conscience”.

Other players to sign the statement included Didier Drogba, who now plays in China, and five players for Newcastle, but it was not backed by any players from the eight teams that have qualified.

Michel Platini, Uefa president, has previously stated that the Israel football association could not be held responsible “for the political situation in the region or for legal procedures in place in its country”. He also said that “it is through dialogue that solutions are found”.

Last updated: 4:05pm, December 4 2012