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PACBI-Cricket / Protestors leave Israel groundless at European Championship

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Haaretz | August 6, 2006

Cricket / Protestors leave Israel groundless at European Championship

Israel's opening match at the European Cricket Championship in Glasgow was canceled yesterday after organizers were unable to find a venue amid fears of protests by Muslim groups over Israel's military action in Lebanon.

The European Cricket Council issued a statement saying the scheduled Division 2 tie against Jersey had been called off as a suitable ground was not available; however, media reports claimed Cricket Scotland had received threatening calls saying the safety of the Israeli players could not be guaranteed.

The match had originally been scheduled for the Glasgow Academicals Cricket Club ground; but after a Muslim student group said it planned to hold a 2,000-strong demonstration against the participation of the Israeli team, police switched the venue to the Glasgow Accies New Anniesland ground.

The Accies, however, refused permission for the game to go ahead there, despite the allocation of 600 officers to police the demonstration, saying that the proximity of the club house to a nursery ruled the grounds out.

"Scottish Cricket went out of its way to find a ground prepared to host the Israeli team, unfortunately not one was prepared to do so," Israel Cricket Association president Stanley Perlman told Haaretz.

Perlman, who is also a member of the International Cricket Council executive, the sports governing body, praised Cricket Scotland for its efforts and cited the outstanding cooperation of Scottish police with the Israeli authorities, but said Israel would not give in to blackmail.

"Israel will not withdraw from the tournament. Israel will not back down in the face of outside pressures," Perlman said. "Israel was invited a year ago to participate in the tournament and Israel has met all its obligations."

Tournament manager Mike Stanger said that discussions were ongoing between Cricket Scotland, the European Cricket Council and the International Cricket Council but that the situation was becoming complicated. "The only legitimate way to overcome the problem would be if Israel withdrew voluntarily from the tournament, and pressure is being brought to bear on them from all quarters to do that," Stanger told the Glasgow Daily Record.

"If they dont and we fail to find a solution that sees all Israels games go ahead, Cricket Scotland could be held responsible for failing to meet their obligations to stage the tournament. Ultimately, that could see us face a 250,000 pound fine."

Protest organizers said the match "should not take place" amid the ongoing Middle East conflict; however, a senior figure in the Glasgow Jewish community, Stephen Kliner, said: "We take exception that Israel should be singled out from participating in sporting events in this country. By extension, every country involved in any form of border dispute or war situation should similarly be banned. Failure to call for similar bans against Russia for their involvement in Chechnya, China in Tibet, the United States in Iraq etc. etc. smacks of discrimination."

A spokesman for the Stop the War Coalition, which plans to join Muslim groups in a demonstration against tomorrows scheduled match against Norway said: "Sporting events such as these are little more than attempts to give international respectability to a regime that has consistently flouted United Nations resolutions and continues to bomb and harass first the Palestinian people and now the Lebanese people."

Posted on 06-08-2006

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