CiF Watch prompts correction to Guardian story about (failed) BDS campaign against Israel

Yesterday, June 4, we commented on a report by Guardian football reporter Louise Taylor (‘England enter a politically loaded European Under-21 Championship‘, June 3) concerning boycott efforts targeting the 2013 European Under-21 Football Championship (UEFA U-21), hosted by Israel, from June 5th through the 18th.  

Though BDS activists have failed in their efforts – by virtue of the fact that the tournament has already begun – Taylor devoted nearly all of her story on the football championship to the efforts of anti-Israel BDS campaigners who were evidently still hoping to persuade EUFA officials to cancel the games.

However, Taylor made an error when she wrote the following:

The hurdles faced by Palestinian footballers, who have their own, Fifa-registered national side, were highlighted in November when more than 60 players from Europe’s major leagues, including Arsenal’s Abou Diaby and Newcastle’s Sylvian Marveaux, Papiss Cissé and Cheik Tioté, signed a petition demanding Uefa relocate the Under-21 tournament.

As we noted back in December, the original list of 62 included some footballers who didn’t in fact sign the petition and, as CAMERA and others reported at the time, after publicity about the ‘faux endorsers’ began generating attention the ‘official’ list shrank to 51.

Shortly after our post yesterday, we contacted Guardian editors to alert them about the error, and within the last hour we were informed that the passage has been corrected to reflect the actual number of signatories, and the following had been added:

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On a final note, at the time of this post Israel was tied with Norway 2-2 in the tournament’s opening match which is being held at Netanya Stadium.

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Taleb Twatha (R) of Israel is challenged by Anders Konradssen of Norway during their UEFA European Under-21 Championship Group A match on June 5.

Guardian sports writer makes unforced error in report on failing BDS campaign against Israel

As we reported on May 28, the 2013 European Under-21 Football Championship (UEFA U-21) will be hosted by Israel beginning tomorrow, June 5th, through the 18th, bringing national football teams from all over Europe to compete – with England, Germany, Spain, Italy, Russia, the Netherlands and Norway, alongside Israel, all vying for the title of champion.

Additionally, we noted in our post that the Guardian, unsurprisingly, has provided free PR to a failing BDS campaign calling for the tournament organizers, even at this late date, to reverse their decision to choose Israel as the venue, publishing a pro-boycott letter (signed largely by activists affiliated with Palestine Solidarity Campaignand a story, in their sports section, reporting on the publication of the very same letter the paper had just published.

The latest publicity provided for those calling for a sporting boycott of the Jewish state was provided by Guardian north-east football correspondent, Louise Taylor, in a piece titled ‘England enter a politically loaded European Under-21 Championship‘, June 3.

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After explaining that Uefa’s award of the European Under-21 Championship to Israel is “politically loaded” Taylor then proceeds to devote nearly all of her 770 word report on the football tournament to the efforts of BDS campaigners who, she claims, regard Israel’s hosting of the games “as another kick in the teeth for Palestinians in the occupied territories.”

Though Taylor mostly sticks to the script, in reporting details of the boycott movement which has been reported elsewhere at the Guardian, she makes an error in the following passage:

The hurdles faced by Palestinian footballers, who have their own, Fifa-registered national side, were highlighted in November when more than 60 players from Europe’s major leagues, including Arsenal’s Abou Diaby and Newcastle’s Sylvian Marveaux, Papiss Cissé and Cheik Tioté, signed a petition demanding Uefa relocate the Under-21 tournament.

However, as we noted back in December after the Guardian’s Chris McGreal first reported news of the footballers’ “Declaration of support for Palestine, the original list of 62 included some footballers who didn’t in fact sign the petition.  As CAMERA noted at the time, shortly after the petition was first published the list of endorsers magically shrank.  

Here are the “signatories” who actually never ‘signed’ the petition:

  • André Ayew, Olympique de Marseille (France)
  • Jordan Ayew, Olympique de Marseille (France)
  • Yohan Cabaye, Newcastle United (UK)
  • Soulaymane Diawara, Olympique de Marseille (France)
  • Didier Drogba, Shanghaï Shenhua (China)
  • Rod Fanni, Olympique de Marseille (France)
  • Eden Hazard, Chelsea (UK)
  • Charles Kaboré, Olympique de Marseille (France)
  • Anthony Le Tallec, AJ Auxerre (France)
  • Steve Mandanda, Olympique de Marseille (France)
  • Arnold Mvuemba, Olympique Lyonnais (France)

Indeed, the petition currently posted on the website of former Tottenham and Sevilla striker Frederic Kanoute only shows 52 names. (Eden Hazard is still listed on his site despite the fact that the Chelsea star denied signing it, bringing the actual number down to 51.)

We can only hope that following this story Louise Taylor will avoid politics and return to writing about sport, where she may be less prone to committing such unforced errors. 

Two footballers cited by Chris McGreal as endorsers of anti-Israel petition flatly deny signing it

H/T Raphael

The Guardian’s Chris McGreal published a story (Footballers condemn plans to hold U21 European Championship in Israel‘) on Nov. 30 about a petition signed by some footballers calling for European football’s governing body to cancel Israel’s hosting of an important 2013 European competition in response to the recent Gaza war.

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McGreal’s piece begins, thus:

“A group of Premier League footballers and players in other major European leagues have condemned plans to hold the Under-21 European championship in Israel next year, saying it will be seen as a “reward” for this month’s assault on Gaza in which young people playing football were killed when a sports stadium was bombed.

The signatories, who include Eden Hazard of Chelsea, Abou Diaby of Arsenal and five Newcastle players – Papiss Cissé, Cheick Tioté, Sylvain Marveaux, Yohan Cabaye and Demba Ba – also criticised Israel’s continued detention without charge or trial of two Palestinian footballers.

Several former Premier League players have also signed the letter, including Didier Drogba and Frédéric Kanouté, both of whom now play in China. Players with QPR, Stoke, Blackburn and Ipswich are among the signatories along with footballers in France, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Turkey.”

While you can read our post about the broader issue of McGreal’s lack of interest in the fact that Hamas used the Gaza sports stadium in question as a rocket launching site during the war, at least two of the players cited by McGreal in this latest report have flatly denied signing the petition.

Former Chelsea player Didier Drogba denied signing the petition, and wrote the following on Twitter: “Please note I did not sign this petition or give my support to this initiative.”

Additionally, Newcastle midfielder Yohan Cabaye says he, too, didn’t sign the anti-Israel petition. According to the Daily Reporter, Cabaye says that he “has never been a signatory” to the campaign.

The petition appears to have been organized by former Tottenham and Sevilla striker Frederic Kanoute, whose personal website lists 62 players (including Drogba and Cabaye) allegedly supporting the anti-Israel action.

You can Tweet Fredric Kanoute @FredricKanoute and ask that he remove the names of Drogba and Cabaye from his site. 

Also, Kanoute has an open Facebook page, which means that you can comment beneath links he shares, such as this one:

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While you’re at it, you can also Tweet Chris McGreal @ChrisMcGreal and ask that he revise his report accordingly.