Fifa and Palestine Football Association demand Israeli attention of detained footballers

Palestine international footballer Mahmoud Al Sarsak is reportedly close to death after going on a hunger strike for almost 90 days in an Israel prison
Palestine's Football Association (PFA) has called on Uefa to prevent Israel from hosting next year's European Under-21 Championship following Fifa's condemnation of the alleged illegal detention of  Palestinian footballers.

Fifa expressed its concern at the situation in a statement made public this week, pointing to the detention of three Palestine footballers, which it believes is illegal.

The game's governing body raised particular concern at the welfare of Palestine international Mahmoud Al Sarsak who is reportedly close to death after a hunger strike of almost 90 days in response to his imprisonment.

Israel has previously said the players are being held in detention without trial under the "Unlawful Combatants Law" because they are a threat, with Sarsak's arrest coming after information linked him with Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) military activities.

Fifa has joined a growing chorus of voices calling for Israel to release the players from detention, while the PFA has asked for Uefa to put further pressure on by preventing the Middle East nation from hosting the 2013 event.

PFA president Jibril Rajoub wrote to Uefa president Michel Platini this week to make him aware of the situation.

Fifa said in its statement: "In a letter to the Israel Football Association (IFA) Fifa President Joseph S. Blatter expressed [Tuesday] grave concern and worry about the alleged illegal detention of Palestine football players.

"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."

The statement continued: "Due to the aforementioned graveness of the situation, 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."

Follow Asia on and for the latest in Asian footballing news, features, and analysis