The Head of European Football Michel Platini is currently feeling the heat, literally, and not just because of his support for Qatar hosting the 2022 World Cup. A protest at the UEFA Champions League dinner the night before the final between Dortmund and eventual winners Bayern Munich would not have helped.
The protesters who were Pro-Palestinian were calling for his to shift next month’s under 21 youth tournament away from host Israel due to the current problems in the Gaza strip. Something that he refuses to do. The protesters managed to break through security and mount the stage shouting anti Israel slogans. One stood behind Platini on the stage holding up a flag.
There were more protests outside as the guests including the likes of David Beckham and Sir Alex Ferguson arrived. Here protesters made their point under banners reading “Red Card Israeli Racism.” Here they claimed support from numerous high profile personalities such as film maker Ken Loach and footballer turned film star Eric Cantona. Also on show was a petition supposedly signed by more than 50 top European footballers including Chelsea’s Eden Hazard and Demba Ba. Both of these players have since come out publicly or through their management to deny signing the petition. The signatories allegedly supported the statement ‘our solidarity with the people of Gaza who are living under siege and denied basic human dignity and freedom.’
The tournament is not far away, and despite England being told to be ready to host it should the protests become too strong, it looks like it will go ahead as planned, but the choice of host is far from popular. Platini will no doubt be praying it goes off without any incidents because if there are any and player safety is compromised he may find his position in jeopardy.