Monday, 20 August 2007

Palestinian footballers denied entry

On September 8th England will play Israel in a football friendly at Wembley. At the same time, the Palestinian U19 team was meant to be touring the country. However, I've just heard today that the Foreign Office have refused them entry visas to the UK.

It looks like the reason may be because the current situation in Gaza might prompt the footballers to claim asylum in the UK. Or, that Israel will make it difficult for them to re-enter the country (it was already making it hard for them to leave in the first place) and they would be stuck as refugees here, or somewhere else. You can find more information here.

The British government needs to wake up on this issue. The whole point of the tour was to demonstrate that Palestinians actually exist (something that many Brits won't be aware of) and also to enable the team to get some training and fixtures that they can't have in their own country thanks to Israeli policies.

Israel's match is of course still going ahead. Me and another Sabeel delegate are planning to take part in a vigil near Wembley a couple of hours before the match. Further information about that is here.

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