French footballer, and former star of Manchester United, Eric Cantona has come out in support of a Palestinian sportsman who’s been detained in Israel for the last three years and is now some 87 days into a hunger strike.
"We never meet him. We get news about him from the lawyers, that's it. They tell us whether he is in good shape or not. They tell us not to worry and that he is still strong. And then we feel more confident about his health."
The mother of Mahmoud Al-Sarsak. His football career was taking off - a rising star on the Palestinian national team. But doctors are worried – they say the 25-year-old is weak, his eyesight is failing and he needs urgent hospital treatment. Mahmoud had played in Europe and the Middle East and – back in 2009 – he was off to be watched by a talent scout at a game in the West Bank when he was arrested by Israeli security officers. They claimed he was an ‘unlawful combatant’ with links to militants, Islamic Jihad, and who was planning attacks and bombings, allegations Al-Sarsak has always denied.
So Cantona – and other stars – have signed a letter which has been sent to a British Sports Minister & the President of UEFA calling for Israel to be subjected to the same scrutiny faced by Euro 2012 hosts Poland and Ukraine. FIFA’s called for Mahmoud’s release. All his family & friends can do now is wait and hope for positive news.
Written and Presented by Marverine Cole