(JNS.org) Dutch soccer club Vitesse has come under fire for its decision to travel to Abu Dhabi without star Israeli defender Dan Mori after United Arab Emirates officials barred Mori’s entry.
According to the Vitesse spokeswoman Esther Bal, the club originally had permission to bring Mori, but UAE officials withdrew the guarantee the day before the trip, DutchNews.nl reported.
“As a football club, we steer clear of politics and religion,” Bal said.
Israel’s Dutch embassy condemned the move, saying “such discrimination in sports is regrettable when sports should be beyond politics.”
Dutch nationalist politician Geert Wilders also criticized the club. “Vitesse did not have to go,” Wilders tweeted. “They are now accepting the Emirates’ Jew-hate. Cowardly.”
The UAE does not recognize Israel and puts restrictions on or bars Israelis seeking to compete in events there.
Last month, Israeli children competing in the World Youth Chess Championships in Dubai were forced to compete anonymously. In 2009, the country denied Israeli tennis player Shahar Pe’er a visa to compete in the Dubai Tennis Championships.