Newsdesk - Palestinian Player Negotiates Release; Platini Defends Euro 2016 Format
June 20, 2012
(WFI) FIFA vice president Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein and FIFPro secretary general Theo van Seggelen are among the leaders of world football welcoming Israel’s guarantee to shortly release Palestinian player Mahmud Sarsak.
Mahmud Sarsak is a midfielder for the Palestinian national team. (FIFPro)
“This is great news,” van Seggelen said. “FIFPro is looking forward to the day he can play football again, as a free man.”
Sarsak, 25, was imprisoned without trial in July 2009 and had been on a hunger strike since March.
According to FIFPro, he was transferred to a civilian hospital for treatment Tuesday but returned hours later to the prison’s clinic. In exchange for ending his hunger strike, he will be released July 10 and allowed to return home to the Gaza Strip.
“This is truly a collective effort that included FIFA, UEFA, AFC, and FIFPro,” Prince Ali said in a statement.
“However, it is important to note that while Sarsak’s release is a significant milestone, two other Palestinian players are still in detention and challenges remain concerning the freedom of movement for Palestinian players.”
Olympic goalkeeper Omar Abu Rois and Ramallah player Mohammed Nimr were both arrested in February, joining more than 300 Palestinians now under administrative detention orders in Israel.
Polish Police Arrest 515
More than 150 foreigners are among the 515 fans detained by Polish police since the June 8 start of Euro 2012.
“The police were prepared for a much larger number," interior minister Jacek Cichocki was quoted by AFP.
"Compared to the number of people who watched the matches, the number of individuals detained for incidents is really very minimal.”
Included in the 153 foreigners are 92 Russians, 16 Croats, 15 Irishmen, 11 Belarusians, five Latvians, three Romanians, two Spaniards, two Serbs, two Germans, one Indian, one Hungarian, one Australian, one Portuguese and one Dutch.
The bulk of the Russians – and many of the Polish too – were part of violent clashes between supporters of the two teams outside Warsaw's National Stadium last Tuesday night. The match ended in a 1-1 draw with 190 arrests made.
Polish police can detain a suspect for up to two days, but a court must approve anything more.
Platini Talks Euro 2016
UEFA president Michel Platini says Euro 2016 will not suffer from its expansion to 24 teams.
UEFA president Michel Platini in Warsaw (Getty Images)
"It's not a problem of quality," he was quoted in a Reuters report.
"We can have eight more teams as good as the rest, and also have a fantastic round of 16," Platini added from the news conference in Warsaw.
The quadrennial showpiece started with just four teams in 1960 before going to eight in 1980 and the current 16-strong format in 1996.
According to the UEFA chief, the addition of another eight countries is good for all parties.
"It's very important for the [additional] countries that qualify. It is good for the national associations and their development,” he said.
Platini added that it’s easier to ask host cities to pour millions into stadiums and infrastructure when they’re going to be staging more than a mere three group matches apiece, as Lviv, Kharkiv, Poznan and Wroclaw are doing this time around.
By INSIDER's Matthew Grayson
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