Breaking news: In response to the Centre's protest below, the legal affairs division of UEFA’s Disciplinary and Integrity Unit notified Samuels in an email that “disciplinary proceedings have been instigated against St. Etienne.”
According to UEFA, the unit will be investigating the team for four infractions — illicit banners, the blocking of stairways, the throwing of objects and the setting off of fireworks.
UEFA has a ban on political displays at games and the presence of the Palestinian flag falls under the “illicit banners” infraction. A disciplinary decision will be reached during UEFA’s Control Ethics and Disciplinary Body’s next meeting on September 22. See:
“Palestinian mischief seems bent, once again, on hijacking soccer for political mayhem.”
Paris, 29 August 2016
In a letter to UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) ad interim President, Angel Maria Villar Llona, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, noted that “the Centre, has, for over twenty years, worked with UEFA against racism, how much it sympathizesin view of the recent crisis within the organization and wishes successful Presidential elections on 14 September.”
The letter stressed that “Palestinian mischief, however, seems bent – once again – on hijacking soccer for political mayhem,” continuing, “in June 2015, we were present in Zürich when Ramallah campaigned to expel Israel from FIFA. Together with a few Christian friends of Israel, we were trampled in a violent charge by 'Palestinian solidarity' hooligans.”
The Centre described how “last week in France, at a Europa League play-off between Israeli Beitar and St. Etienne, the match was preceded by a similar pro-Palestinian rally. St. Etienne fans were permitted to wave French and Palestinian flags, while the visiting Israelis and Jewish fans were prevented from bringing the Israeli flag into the stadium.”
Samuels pointed to the UEFA website, “which describes itself as ‘neutral politically and religiously’ - a status now gravely endangered by Palestinian political agitation among local clubs.”
The Centre urged UEFA “to protest the discrimination and delegitimization of Israel in banning its flag.”
“Harsh disciplinary measures must be imposed on St. Etienne by UEFA to show that attacks on fair-play and the values of the beautiful game can not be condoned,” concluded Samuels.