FIFPro salutes Mahmoud al-Sarsak as a free man
Tuesday 10 July
Former hunger-striker Mahmoud al-Sarsak has been released from Israeli prison this Tuesday, July 10th. ‘FIFPro is very happy that Mahmoud al-Sarsak is a free man now’, said FIFPro secretary general Theo van Seggelen.
Al-Sarsak returned to the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, three years after the player of the national football team of Palestine was imprisoned by Israeli government. On 22 July 2009 Al-Sarsak was arrested while on his way to the West Bank for a match of his national team. Since then, he was detained without any legal charge or trial. He was held under Israel’s Unlawful Combatants Law, which allows for Palestinians from Gaza to be detained for an unlimited period of time without charge or trial.
Following his release on Tuesday, Al-Sarsak was transferred to a hospital in Gaza City for medical attention. There, hundreds of people had gathered to welcome him, according to a Ma’an reporter, who wrote al-Sarsak’s first words: ‘I thank God and all the athletes of the world.’
‘FIFPro is very happy that Mahmoud al-Sarsak is a free man now’, said FIFPro secretary general Theo van Seggelen. ‘We expect that this is the first and the last time that such a serious incident as this occurs.’
‘We, FIFPro, the representative of all professional footballers worldwide, expect that every footballer worldwide must be able to play for his country; be it Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo or Mahmoud al-Sarsak. It is written down in the FIFA regulations that all players must be allowed to play for their country.’
Van Seggelen continues: ‘We, FIFPro, refer to the fact that all professional footballers in the world must have equal rights, including the right to freedom of movement, which is a universal right of every citizen. That also applies to all professional footballers in and from Palestine.’
(photo by Reuters)