Soccer stars protest Israel hosting u-21's

Dec. 2, 2012 at 7:43 AM

RAMALLAH, West Bank, Dec. 2 (UPI) -- Soccer stars have signed a petition protesting a decision by the Union of European Football Associations to stage the under-21 championship in Israel.

"We, as European football players, express our solidarity with the people of Gaza who are living under siege and denied basic human dignity and freedom," the petition said. The recent Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza was described as "yet another stain on world conscience," the Palestinian News Network said Sunday.

The protest petition dubbed "European footballers declare support for Palestine," was promoted by a number of pro-Palestinian groups based in Israel, France and Britain, the network said. None of the players due to play in Israel in June signed the petition.

Players who signed include Britain's Abou Diaby of Arsenal Football Club and Eden Hazard, Chelsea Football Club; and from France -- Gael Angoula of Bastia Sporting Club, Karim ait-Fana of Montpellier HSC; and Jordan and Andre Ayew of Olympique France. Other players were from Italy, Spain, Portugal, Australia, Turkey, Qatar and China.

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