JTA-Team facing criticism for agreeing to play matches despite United Arab Emirates' refusal to let Israeli defender Dan Mori into the country
A Dutch soccer team is facing criticism for playing
in Abu Dhabi despite the emirate’s refusal to let in the team’s Israeli
Dutch politicians and several media criticized the team Vitesse from
Arnhem over the weekend for agreeing to play in Abu Dhabi despite the
refusal Saturday to let Dan Mori into the country for matches against
two German teams.
Geert Wilders, leader of the rightist,
pro-Israel Party for Freedom, on Sunday called the team cowardly on his
Twitter account. “Vitesse shouldn’t have gone to the United Arab
Emirates to protest the refusal to let Mori in. They are now accepting
the emirates’ Jew-hate. Cowardly.”
Pieter Omtzigt, a lawmaker for
the CDA party, told Dutch media on Monday that Vitesse should behave
like Dutch lawmakers, who refuse to visit places which try to dictate
the make-up of parliamentary delegations.
communications director for Vitesse, said the team “stays away from
politics and religion. We have always done this. We are a soccer club.”
said in a statement that the decision to go to Abu Dhabi was made
because “the team had obligations and wanted to prepare to the best of
our abilities for future matches.”
In January 2010, Hamas
operative Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh was assassinated in the neighboring Saudi
emirate of Dubai in a complex operation which involved two people
dressed in tennis outfits and several other operatives.
Israel, which was widely seen as responsible for the killing, never confirmed or denied its involvement.