N.I. players should pull out of Israel match says MLA

Northern Ireland supporters. (Photo: Pacemaker/David Macginnis)

A Sinn Fein MLA has encouraged Northern Ireland international footballers to pull out of Tuesday's match against Israel in Windsor Park, Belfast.

Speaking at a rally at the International Wall in West Belfast, Pat Sheehan MLA, said if the Irish Football Association (I.F.A.) proceed with the friendly fixture then players should make themselves unavailable to play.

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"We held a protest today [Saturday] against the I.F.A.’s plans to play a soccer friendly against the Israeli national team at Windsor Park on Tuesday night.

“We have called on the I.F.A. to cancel this match in the same way that the Argentinian national team pulled out of a pre-World Cup game with the Israelis earlier this year," said the West Belfast MLA.

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Mr. Sheehan explained how Northern Ireland supporters could make their feelings on "the slaughter of Palestinian civilians" known was by "leaving the stands (at Windsor Park) empty".

“Israel is an apartheid state which is involved in the slaughter of Palestinian civilians and flagrant human rights abuse whilst also violating international law.

“Sinn Féin support the Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions campaign which involves the economic, cultural and sporting boycott of the Israeli state.

“Apartheid has no place in sport and fans should highlight this by leaving the stands empty."

Windsor Park, Belfast. (Photo: Presseye/Philip Magowan)

Mr. Sheehan added: “At this late stage, I am urging the I.F.A. to cancel Tuesday’s match and if they fail to do so, players should pull out of this fixture.”

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