Guardian sports writer makes unforced error in report on failing BDS campaign against Israel

As we reported on May 28, the 2013 European Under-21 Football Championship (UEFA U-21) will be hosted by Israel beginning tomorrow, June 5th, through the 18th, bringing national football teams from all over Europe to compete – with England, Germany, Spain, Italy, Russia, the Netherlands and Norway, alongside Israel, all vying for the title of champion.

Additionally, we noted in our post that the Guardian, unsurprisingly, has provided free PR to a failing BDS campaign calling for the tournament organizers, even at this late date, to reverse their decision to choose Israel as the venue, publishing a pro-boycott letter (signed largely by activists affiliated with Palestine Solidarity Campaignand a story, in their sports section, reporting on the publication of the very same letter the paper had just published.

The latest publicity provided for those calling for a sporting boycott of the Jewish state was provided by Guardian north-east football correspondent, Louise Taylor, in a piece titled ‘England enter a politically loaded European Under-21 Championship‘, June 3.


After explaining that Uefa’s award of the European Under-21 Championship to Israel is “politically loaded” Taylor then proceeds to devote nearly all of her 770 word report on the football tournament to the efforts of BDS campaigners who, she claims, regard Israel’s hosting of the games “as another kick in the teeth for Palestinians in the occupied territories.”

Though Taylor mostly sticks to the script, in reporting details of the boycott movement which has been reported elsewhere at the Guardian, she makes an error in the following passage:

The hurdles faced by Palestinian footballers, who have their own, Fifa-registered national side, were highlighted in November when more than 60 players from Europe’s major leagues, including Arsenal’s Abou Diaby and Newcastle’s Sylvian Marveaux, Papiss Cissé and Cheik Tioté, signed a petition demanding Uefa relocate the Under-21 tournament.

However, as we noted back in December after the Guardian’s Chris McGreal first reported news of the footballers’ “Declaration of support for Palestine, the original list of 62 included some footballers who didn’t in fact sign the petition.  As CAMERA noted at the time, shortly after the petition was first published the list of endorsers magically shrank.  

Here are the “signatories” who actually never ‘signed’ the petition:

  • André Ayew, Olympique de Marseille (France)
  • Jordan Ayew, Olympique de Marseille (France)
  • Yohan Cabaye, Newcastle United (UK)
  • Soulaymane Diawara, Olympique de Marseille (France)
  • Didier Drogba, Shanghaï Shenhua (China)
  • Rod Fanni, Olympique de Marseille (France)
  • Eden Hazard, Chelsea (UK)
  • Charles Kaboré, Olympique de Marseille (France)
  • Anthony Le Tallec, AJ Auxerre (France)
  • Steve Mandanda, Olympique de Marseille (France)
  • Arnold Mvuemba, Olympique Lyonnais (France)

Indeed, the petition currently posted on the website of former Tottenham and Sevilla striker Frederic Kanoute only shows 52 names. (Eden Hazard is still listed on his site despite the fact that the Chelsea star denied signing it, bringing the actual number down to 51.)

We can only hope that following this story Louise Taylor will avoid politics and return to writing about sport, where she may be less prone to committing such unforced errors. 

20 replies »

  1. At least Louise Taylor had the decency to mention that there are six Arab Israelis in the Israel U21 squad.

    I expect Alan Rusbridger has already sent a sharply worded memo. Telling the truth about Israel contravenes everything the Guardian stands for.

  2. I agree that the over-zealous focus (especially on the sports pages) on this aspect of the tournament is – shall we say – regrettable, but an error of this sort is hardly spectacular. Yes it is an error, and accuracy and fact-checking are important, but would the article really have been any better if it had said “more than 50 players”?

    Not much.

    • I think the point is accusing others of being political when one is playing a political game herself. To suggest that UEFA is supporting Israel’s politics (like that’s ever happened) and then spend the rest of the article playing a stupid game over BDS (as if it’s not a hate mongering tactic against solely the Jewish state) reeks of not just hypocrisy but also of total lunacy.

      Louise gives women covering Sports a bad image. That of a dingbat.

      • It matters because it serves to cover up the fact that petition organizers lied about the degree of support for the boycott.

        Plus, a fact is a fact and it is simply untrue to state, as the journalist did, that “over 60 players signed the petition”.

        • I don’t disagree with you Adam. It is sloppy journalism (she probably googled the thing and got an old report and didn’t bother to read any further). If anything, it just shows how persistent lies are – even long after they have been exposed as such.

  3. On the same theme , here is another monumental BDS fail . Although low profile , if anything it’s more important than the Under 21 BDS fail . Please circulate .

    BDS Movement Suffers Mega Defeat in TIAA-CREF Divestment Battle

    Dear xxx

    The anti-Semitic BDS movement suffered a major defeat this week when the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) authorized pension fund giant TIAA-CREF to exclude a resolution calling for divestments from Israeli companies from the ballot at the fund’s upcoming shareholders meeting. The resolution, put forward by a small band of extremist shareholders, would have allowed TIAA-CREF‘s full membership to vote on the resolution at the meeting in North Carolina in July. In the wake of the SEC ruling, however, the resolution will now not be presented to the shareholders and will not be voted upon at all.

    Following the submission of the divestment resolution, TIAA-CREF officials had written to the SEC requesting that it be permitted, due to its biased and anti-Israel political content, to “take no action” on the resolution. Essentially, it was asked that they be allowed to leave it off the ballot completely and ignored.

    Shurat HaDin sent a warning letter to TIAA-CREF last month informing its leadership that the boycott resolution was a violation of both federal and New York State law and that any effort by the pension fund to implement it would be illegal. The letter noted that New York law defines boycotts as “unlawful discriminatory practice” and that any decision to “refuse to buy from, sell to or trade with, or otherwise discriminate against any person, because of the…creed…[or ]national origin” is unlawful and even places secondary actors, aiding the policy, under liability.

    Moreover, we warned the fund that should it pass and actually undertake to boycott Israeli companies, we would file suit on the companies’ behalf against TIAA-CREF, and ask both federal and state law enforcement agencies to take action against the fund’s leadership. We stressed that if the anti-Israel resolution passes, and TIAA-CREF does not expressly disavow it and refuse to comply with it, Shurat HaDin will be ready to immediately bring TIAA-CREF to court to ensure the enforcement of state and federal anti-discrimination and anti-boycott laws, and to ensure that Israeli companies and businesses are not harmed as a result of TIAA-CREF’s newly-adopted policy of discrimination. We also demanded that the extremist boycott resolution not be presented at all.

    Last week, American counsel for Shurat HaDin contacted the SEC and discussed our concerns over the divestment resolution noting its anti-Semitic nature, the fact that it only targeted Israel and that it was a violation of the anti-boycott laws. We pointed out to the SEC that the TIAA-CREF’s corporate charter limits its proper function to conducting business ‘to aid and strengthen nonprofit colleges, universities’. As such, we could not understand how a biased and malicious resolution like this can properly be presented to their membership. The resolution violates standing laws, is contrary to public policy and must be abandoned.

    We are very grateful that the SEC has now authorized TIAA-CREF to exclude the divestment resolution and not allow it to be voted upon.

    The BDS movement is reeling from the SEC decision. They were really hoping that the TIAA-CREF shareholder meeting in July was going to provide them a big public forum for a discussion of their anti-Semitic opinions and their efforts to scapegoat the Jewish State. They believed they had the momentum this time to get a boycott resolution passed by a prestigious fund like the TIAA-CREF but the SEC ruling has put an end to all that.

    So chalk up another victory for Israel’s supporters and another colossal failure for the BDS movement. May all their extremist efforts meet the same fate.



    • Strange that boycotts were totally admirable when they were aimed at a brutal racist state that aggressed its neighbours for “Lebensraum”.

      In fact, that boycott was startyed years before the brutish regime started smashing up the property and religious houses of followers of a Middle Eastern religion.

      • Why you Nazi POS…
        It has already been explained to you many times, you moron, that Fascist goons like you, have already been attacking Germany’s Jews, since at least 1931.
        Why don’t you take your Holocaust denial, and go fuck yourself?

        • True, only two years after the ethnic nationalist thugs had started beating and robbing people, parts of the world comunity announced a boycott of their country (and according to several accounts, claimed to have “declared war” on it).

          I think boycotting racists and even declaring war on a country that behaves like that is absolutely the right thing to do – or are you claiming that the world is a bit unfair on the Nazis?

          • Hey, nick-natzie, are you happy that your Natzie arse was kicked out of elderofzyon? Nobody can stand your Jew-hating filth for long. Try Al Jazeera.

            • You’re far from the only Zionist incapable of answering questions, and simply getting more and more angry because you know that people like me are right, while you’re defending the most appalling atrocities and pogroms.

              • LOL! Methinks you are very resentful for being banned from elderofzyon and harrysplace. Nobody can stand your anti-Semitic drek. Hopefully you’ll be kicked out from here too, nick-Nazi.

  4. And since when was Shanghaï Shenhua in Europe’s major leagues?
    So 52 signatories from how many footballers? The UK Premier League alone has about 500 …

    • Come on England! Do the right thing and “let” Israel lose by a big margin. (that’d be the latest in a long line of excuses, at least)

      And I’d never thought I’d say it, but: forza italia!