Ecumenical News International

EKD Sports Spoksperson Considers Boycotting EURO 2012 Appropriate

April 30, 2012

Berlin (epd). Prelate Bernhard Felmberg, who speaks out on sports matters for the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), considers a possible political boycott of the European Football Championship (EURO 2012) in Ukraine to be perfectly appropriate. "It is good to make clear to the Ukraine authorities that Germany does not tolerate such serious human rights violations," he told the Protestant news agency epd on Monday in Berlin.

Six weeks before the kick-off of the European Football Championship there is growing criticism of Ukraine. The main reason is its treatment of former prime minister Julia Timoschenko. According to media reports, German Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) is considering recommending to her ministers not to attend the matches in Ukraine. EURO 2012 is scheduled to run from 8 June to 1 July in Ukraine and Poland. 16 matches are planned for Ukraine, including the final on 1 July in Kiev.

However, Felmberg warned against calling the location of the matches into question. EURO 2012 was directing the "focus of public awareness and media reporting at the abuses prevailing in the country," he said. "Holding EURO 2012 in Ukraine offers the opportunity to clearly name these human rights violations and demand changes from the Ukraine government."

Felmberg particularly underlined the lack of rule of law in the country. Furthermore, he criticized detention conditions and the maltreatment, to the point of torture, prevailing in Ukraine's prisons. "It is to be feared that the situation of politician Julia Timoschenko would not have aroused so much attention under normal circumstances," said the sports spokesman, who is also EKD representative to the German federal government and the European Union.



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