The Israeli national football team competed in its European Championship Qualifier Sunday, September 6, playing Wales at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
Israel’s presence however, enraged anti-Israel activists who staged a protest against the arrival of the team.
Football Against Apartheid (FAA), which states its aims to “bring together football and activists campaigning against Apartheid” posted on its website the itinerary of the protest and the demands it will make on football associations regarding Israel.
“We’ll deliver a letter and speech calling on Wales and the FA to support the call to EXPEL apartheid Israel from FIFA. We’ll march to protest the presence of an apartheid Israeli football team in Britain and especially in Cardiff City.”
In an interview last week with Tazpit, Guto Bebb, a British Conservative MP for the Welsh constituency of Aberconwy, described the organizers of the protest as “idiots.”
Denouncing the actions as “two-faced” he went on to express regret about the reality that there are those “who will protest against a democracy in Israel but will not lift a finger to protest about Iran or China participating in the London Olympics.”
When asked about the demonstration, a Welsh government spokesperson, requesting anonymity, contradicted the goals of FAA telling Tazpit that football should serve as a powerful tool for bringing people together while simultaneously expressing its respect for peaceful protest.
Addressing the Israeli team and fans, the spokesperson concluded by emphasizing its commitment to the safety of all attending today’s game: “We are sure that the Israeli football team and fans will receive a warm welcome to Wales.”
Similarly, South Wales Police issued a statement to Tazpit assuring fans of a “warm Welsh welcome.” Match commander superintendent Jim Dyson, added that “officers will be on duty to facilitate organized peaceful protests” but anticipated “a great game and excellent atmosphere in the city.”
The match ended in an 0-0 draw.
By Alexander Apfel
Tazpit News Agency