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.


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:


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

22 replies »

  1. Wonder if Kanoute also objected to some Premiership footballers (who happened to be Jewish, including Benayoun and others) being denied entry to Dubai to travel with their teams? Doubt it.

      • As Chelsea fan I guess he’s talking about Malaysia tour 2011.Only presure from club and leave tour let Benayon play the game.Each time when Yossi toch ball local people in their huge stadium boo at him.

        I hope next news wiil be same but from Hazard

        • So it only happened to Ben Haim as far as I can tell from that article? One reprieve is that it was based on nationality, I suppose, and Israel wouldn’t allow an Emirati in. Is that right?

          Very sad situation.

          • OK, I know you’re not interested in facts that don’t conform to your world view; my cards on the table based on your output are face up. And your free speech rights mean you can lie to your heart’s content without being censored. But I’m not going to say, well, the guy lies all the time, let it go. There was NOTHING in the article about Israel ever banning anyone from the UAE/Dubai from entering Israel. That’s something you made up to try and deflect attention from the entirety of this short piece, that Israelis were actually banned from training in Dubai (which you at least, in crocodile tears-fashion, found “sad”). In short, if you’re going to fib this blatantly, try finding more obscure sources, because it took about 15 seconds of reading to shred your non-existent argument.

          • I see.

            I wasn’t really making an argument, I was more asking a question. I mean, there are a few incidences of Israelis being denied access to the UAE, though in some cases Israeli officials have been allowed to enter, and there is of course the “embassy” that Israel has. So it’s not a blanket ban, would be interesting to know why and how they make these decisions though it’s probably an obscure topic.

            Clearly the chief problem is a lack of diplomatic relations (official ones at least) between the two countries. And my comment was really a question asking, would an Emirati be granted entry into Israel, traveling on an Emirati passport? I don’t know. Can anyone shed light?

          • First you want proof, then you want someone else to research your immediate ‘yes but’? I looked up the incident for you. If you want to research your fantasy exculpatory circumstances, Google it yourself.

            I will comment here that this is…GOSH! This is ‘collective punishment’, isn’t it?


            “We will not allow those who hold Israeli passports into the UAE no matter what other passport they have,” Tamim said.

            He did not explain what procedures would be used to identify the Israeli visitors, except that the police will “develop skills” to recognize Israelis by “physical features and the way they speak.”

            Indeed, a very sad situation. But I’m done Googling for the week,

          • you don’t appear to have answered my question. I have already said that it’s bad that UAE doesn’t allow Israelis in, though it’s not really ‘collective punishment’, state policy.

            Are Emiratis allowed into Israel?


            As you’ll see after reading this, there is no blanket prohibition or ban on Arab travelers entering Israel, and a hypothetical case of an Emirati being denied entry to Israel would fall under the same heading as the time last year when Richard Falk (American) was told to get lost because of his anti-Israel views and Israel’s decision that having him visit their country was neither needed nor wanted. Obviously, almost all Americans who wish to enter Israel do so without any issues, as is the case for the other nations of the world.
            On the other hand, this article mentions hard facts about Arab countries both refusing entry to Israel and taking action against their citizens if they have Israeli stamps on their passport.
            In short, the equivalence being waved around here between Israeli and UAE travel entry policies does not exist, and the attempt to create a parallel on these grounds is as false as it is easy to debunk.

      • I have blogged about this disgraceful state of affairs before.

        See and – West Ham sent Yossi Benayoun and Yaniv Katan on a separate trip while the rest of the squad holidayed in the UAE, and Bolton went to Dubai despite the fact they wouldn’t let Tal BenHaim in and again left Tamir Cohen behind 3 years later (although admittedly he was injured at the time).

        This is nothing short of disgusting. Would these clubs have spent their money in a country which refused entry to, say, black players? West Ham and Bolton ought to have, on principal, refused to go there unless they let in ALL their squad members, regardless of nationality or race.

  2. So basically signed overwhelmingly by a combination/mixture of French-African Muslims. Not surprising and not representative of anything other than the opinions of… Muslims.

  3. Well, I suppose that the Guardian, in good Stalinist fashion, will insist that “objectively” these two did sign it since McGreal said they did …

  4. Luckily,the next three World Cups will be held in those well known bastions of freedom,fairness and tolerance,Brazil,Russia,and Qatar.
    So no need for petitions or Guardian campaigns.

    The Guardian style guide now instructs journalists to ‘take reality with a pinch of salt’ as it has ‘proven to be incorrect and/or show a pro-Israel bias far too many times’.

  6. The thing that stands out here is that a fair number of prominent celebrities do tend to sign onto anti-Israel/BDS type initiatives, even if they also end up repeating themselves to an extent that they become the “usual suspects” (along the lines of Roger Waters or Alice Walker), but major international superstars from sports and entertainment tend to NOT embrace those initiatives, either because they don’t agree with them or simply don’t care one way or the other. That’s why the Drogba statement is important, because he would easily be the biggest name in this effort, and it would be very BDS-like to not be happy with usual suspect support and to try and hijack a name more prominent than the ones who actually did sign onto the UEFA petition. It reminds me of how some Canadian BDS types once announced that James Cameron was supporting their latest anti-Israel effort (this was right as AVATAR was setting box office records) and they ended up retreating and lamely claiming they’d been kidding when Cameron publicly stated that he did not support their initiative and had in fact no use for BDS in any shape or form.

  7. Labenal, great post by you.
    The Arabs know the British media wont talk about Arab apartheid.
    Arab Apartheid in the Mideast.
    Click on this link.

  8. There are maybe 9000 Jews living in the entire Arab world.
    Jews are barred from living in every Aeab country, except like 700 Jews who live in Morocco and 1500 who live in Tunisia.

  9. racism against black people and jewish people is diffrent. black people have been victims of racism and slavoury jews have thiefed another mans land and to this day still killing their people that makes jews the suspects not the victims as an arguement jews will cry hitler to give feeling that they are victims but the last time i checked hitler wasnt palistinian so what did the palistinians do to the jews? nothing! thats what people who speak in english define as murderers. arabs dont let jews into their countries but will let all other people in except jews just like england and america don’t let terrorists into their countries. arabs feel that jews are terrorists and israel is like a big jewish alqaeeda, taliban or ira that have been given political power by the west.