The international community says: Uruguay, No Vayas!

30+ organizations from around the world–US, Canada, Europe, UK, Africa, Palestine and elsewhere say “Uruguay Don’t Go”

On May 30, 2022, solidarity groups in Uruguay launched the campaign URUGUAY, NO VAYAS!  (URUGUAY, DON’T GO!) to ask the AUF (Asociación Uruguaya de Fútbol — AUF, or Uruguayan Football Association)and the Uruguay men’s soccer team to NOT to accept the invitation from the State of Israel to carry out the final phase of preparation for the World Cup in that country and/or play a friendly match, on the way to Qatar.

On May 30, 2022, during the webinar “FIFA Suspend Israeli Apartheid”

Roger Waters told the Uruguay Team – don’t do it. Don’t train or play any matches in Israel.

On June 2, 2022, a letter signed by the main social organizations in Uruguay was delivered to the AUF headquarters.

On Friday, July 22, civil society in Uruguay went again to AUF headquarters to demand a response to their request for an interview about the plans of the national team regarding Israel. The sports media had already said that the friendly match with Israel’s team had been abandoned but had said nothing about whether they would be in Israel for the last week of training for the World Cup, on their way to Qatar.

After insisting, the Uruguay campaign organizers received a response from the AUF, informing that “no pre-World Cup activity is planned in Israel.” This response was welcomed but left ambiguity, because several weeks before the AUF President Ignacio Alonso said on TV that “this week” they would decide in which place the national team will do the last week of preparations and added that “likely it will be Abu Dhabi”. But still close to a month later, this has not been confirmed nor announced.

The Message:

Israel is an apartheid state. In this last year, the main Israeli and international human rights organizations have agreed: B’Tselem, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International, as well as the outgoing UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Palestinian Territory,
Michael Lynk. Palestinian organizations have been denouncing Israeli apartheid for decades.

And you don’t play with apartheid. 

When South Africa lived under an apartheid regime, there was a powerful international campaign to sanction and isolate that country; and sport played a key role in that campaign.

Thus, that is why the Uruguay organizations are saying “we do not want our national team to stain the beloved light blue shirt by becoming an accomplice of apartheid. The invitations that Israel extends to play friendly matches or do training sessions in its territory are part of a campaign to whitewash its international image – increasingly deteriorated – and hide the crimes it commits daily against the Palestinian people, against its soccer players and athletes.”

Palestinian players are constantly attacked, killed, injured, mutilated, repressed, imprisoned by the Israeli colonial occupation. Their stadiums are bombed. Their freedom of movement is constantly violated so that they cannot assemble the national team (divided between Gaza and the West Bank), nor train, nor go abroad to participate in international competitions. Recently, Israeli forces have killed three teenage soccer players in the West Bank: Mohammad Ghneim (19), Saeed Odeh (16) and Thaer Yazouri (18). Who does not remember the four children killed by an Israeli missile   while playing soccer on the beach in Gaza? 

In addition, the Israeli Football Association (AFI) includes football clubs from illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, on land stolen from Palestinian communities. All Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory are illegal according to the UN and international humanitarian law (Fourth Geneva Convention and Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court), which prohibits the transfer of the occupying population to the occupied territory, for which they constitute a war crime.

For all these reasons, today we grassroots, civil society, NGOs, faith groups, and others organizations from the international community say to the AUF and the Uruguayan team: listen to the call of your Palestinian colleagues, the Palestinian people and their athletes, and those in Uruguay and elsewhere in the world wo have said: Do not throw overboard the prestige of the Uruguay national team, and do not stain the sky by collaborating to cover up the crimes of Israeli apartheid. 

As organizations who respect the human rights of all, we publicly express our adherence to the campaign URUGUAY, NO VAYAS!  (URUGUAY, DON’T GO!)

The following organizations have signed:

Al-Haadi Musalla
Al-Quds Committee Toronto
Arab Cause Solidarity Committee CSCA
Australian Palestinian Professionals Association
Australians For Palestine
Baltimore Nonviolence Center
BDS Vancouver Coast Salish Territories
Canadian BDS Coalition
Disciples Palestine-Israel Network (US & Canada)
Early Childhood Intercultural Partnerships, Victoria, British Columbia
Free Gaza Australia
Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA)
Good Shepherd Collective, Palestine
Hamilton Coalition To Stop The War, Canada
Human Rights for All (HR4A) Saskatchewan
Indiana Center for Middle East Peace
Israel Palestine TaskForce California Nevada Conference of the United Methodist Church
Jewish Network for Palestine, UK
Jews for Palestinian Right of Return, US
Just Peace Advocates/Mouvement Pour Une Paix Juste (Canada)
Justice for Palestinians Calgary
Kia Ora Gaza (Aotearoa/NZ)
Labor for Palestine, US
Let Kashmir Decide
Mavi Marmara Freedom and Solidarity Association, Türkiye
Mennonite Palestine Israel Network (MennoPIN)
Oakville Palestinian Rights Association
Palestinian and Jewish Unity (PAJU), Montreal
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network
The Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church USA
The Students for Justice in Palestine at Rutgers – New Brunswick, New Jersey
United Methodists for Kairos Response (UMKR)
US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel

Organizations can endorse HERE.

Read more: “It’s frustrating to see the double standards of the international community clone themselves in football” by Maria Landi, July 22, 2022, Brecha, WITH SUSAN SHALABI, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE PALESTINIAN FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION

You can follow up the campaign on social media:

Facebook: Coordinación por Palestina / BDSUruguay

Twitter: @NovayasUy

Instagram: Uruguay NOvayas