LONDON (AP) – Dozens of soccer players have signed a statement protesting the decision to stage the European under-21 championship in Israel next year following the country's recent military offensive in the Gaza Strip.
Chelsea's Eden Hazard, Arsenal's Abou Diaby and Paris Saint-Germain's Jeremy Menez were among the 62 players who claim that Israel hosting the tournament will be ''seen as a reward for actions that are contrary to sporting values.''
''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 players said in the statement, which was also published on the website of former Tottenham and Sevilla striker Frederic Kanoute.
UEFA President Michel Platini has said he has no security concerns about the eight-team tournament, which will be played from June 5-18 in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Netanya and Petach Tikva.
Players' statement and list of signatories: