FIFA wants action on hunger striking player

Palestine footballer Mahmoud Sarsak has been in prison in Israel since 2009.

Story highlights

  • FIFA president Sepp Blatter calls for IFA to act on imprisoned Palestine players
  • Mahmoud Sarsak has been in jail in Israel since June 2009
  • Sarsak has been on hunger strike in protest against his continued incarceration
  • FIFPro calls the situation an "injustice" and call for Sarsak's release

The president of soccer's global governing body has urged the Israeli Football Association (IFA) to intervene in the case of a hunger striking Palestinian footballer.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter "expressed grave concern" regarding the incarceration of members of the Palestine team in Israel, including Mahmoud Sarsak who is on hunger strike.

"The reports FIFA received state that in apparent violation of their integrity and human rights and without the apparent right of a due process (trial), several Palestine football players have allegedly been illegally detained by Israeli authorities," read a statement on the organization's website.

"FIFA urgently calls on IFA to draw the attention of the Israeli competent authorities to the present matter, with the aim of ensuring the physical integrity of the concerned players as well as their right for due process."

The global organization which represents professional footballers FIFPro has called for the immediate release of Sarsak, who has been imprisoned since being arrested at a checkpoint while attempting to enter the West Bank in June 2009..

"FIFPro, the voice of all professional footballers in the world, demands that Mahmoud Sarsak be released from prison," said the release on FIFPro's website.

"The 25-year-old footballer has not eaten for 85 days and has lost approximately thirty kilos in weight. According to human rights organization Addameer the situation of Mahmoud is critical.

"FIFPro is deeply concerned about Sarsak's health and about his imprisonment and therefore asks for his release from jail."

FIFPro's vice-president Philippe Piat described Sarsak's situation as an "injustice."

"The freedom of movement is a fundamental right of every citizen," said Piat. "It is also written down in the FIFA Regulations that players must be allowed to play for the national team of their country.

"But actually for some footballers it is impossible to defend the colors of their country. They cannot cross the border. They cannot visit their family. They are locked up."

The Israeli Embassy in London was not immediately available for comment.

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