Archive for the ‘sport’ Category.

BDS Own Goal: Footballers and the phantom signatures

Much was made this week of a petition signed by 62 professional footballers, including several English Premier League players, protesting UEFA’s decision to hold next summer’s European under-21 Championships in Israel.

The petition, reportedly initiated by the ex-Tottenham Frederic Kanoute, also featured the former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba and Newcastle midfielder Yohann Cabaye.

Or did it?

News emerged today that in fact neither of these players actually added their name to the petition. Drogba took to twitter to deny that he was involved and Yohann Cabaye posted a message to his website stating that he had never agreed to his name being attributed.

Admittedly the campaign to prevent Israel hosting the tournament next summer has been a bit of a damp squib but did the organisers really have to stoop this low? To borrow a football cliché, it’s a real head in the hands moment.

But there’s an even more serious edge to this tale.

How many of the other footballers had their names added to the petition without consent? And how much of the BDS strategy in general relies on inflation, exaggeration and, dare we say, outright falsehood?

Suddenly a petition which appeared to have finally given some exposure to a failing campaign has become a laughing stock, its credibility shot to pieces.

Culture and sport should unite rather than divide. It should form bridges between people so that difficult issues such as the Middle East Peace Process can be tackled in a constructive way.

This sort of petition can only ever be destructive, and even more so when it is full of lies and half-truths like the ones uncovered today.


BBC Olympics site: Jerusalem capital of Palestine, Israel has no capital

As the BBC gears up its coverage for the Olympics, the Corporation has made pages on its website for every participating country in the Games. These pages will be hubs for the coverage of athletes from these countries and keep data of how many medals each country wins.

The pages also have some details of each country: capital city, population, size and languages.

This is where the problem starts, because the Palestinian Authority has an Olympic Committee, allowing it to enter athletes as “Palestine”.

The BBC lists the capital of Palestine as “East Jerusalem” (see bottom-left corner below)


BBC Palestine Excerpt

BBC Olympic Website - Palestine page


What about Israel? The website doesn’t list any capital at all for Israel. We think this is unique – only Israel isn’t allowed a capital city at all.


BBC Israel Excerpt

BBC Olympics Website - Israel Page

If this sounds familiar, it’s because exactly the same thing happened in April on the official Olympics website. Almost certainly the BBC’s Sports team just copied their data from the Olympic website without checking it. We don’t believe that this is evidence of malice or bias, but it’s a bit lazy. Certainly after the story about the Olympic website erupted, someone in the BBC somewhere should have asked “Hang on, what do we have on our own site?”

Will the BBC change its site? If so, how?

The BBC’s corporate position (and that of the UK Government) is to deny that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. The BBC usually picks another city in Israel – Tel Aviv – and decides to call it the capital instead, which is pretty weird. The Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, is in Jerusalem. So is the executive office of the Prime Minister and the Supreme Court. The UK’s embassy to Israel isn’t even in Tel Aviv – it’s in the city of Ramat Gan. Quick correction: The Embassy moved to Tel Aviv a couple of years ago but the BBC also used to say that Israel’s capital was Tel Aviv before the move.

But the BBC’s corporate position is also to consider Ramallah – and not Jerusalem or East Jerusalem – as the capital of the Palestinian Territories.

The Olympics website first added Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, then changed its mind and then took down ALL capital cities after the news coverage. Let’s see what the BBC does now.

You can complain to the BBC here
(original hat tip to David Century)