A controversial petition that featured the signatures of several high-profile world soccer players has prompted a denial from a Chelsea star.
Eden Hazard has denied any involvement with a petition released last Friday supporting Palestinian Arab groups and protesting the European Under 21 Championship, which is scheduled to be held in Israel next year.
The petition was organized by former Tottenham and Sevilla striker Frederic Kanoute, and also featured the name of former Chelsea star Didier Drogba, who has since denied involvement.
The petition claims Israel staging the tournament following their military actions against Hamas in Gaza will be “seen as a reward for actions that are contrary to sporting values”.
According to the UK’s Daily Mail, 81 of Chelsea’s Jewish supporters put their names on an email to the club’s chief executive Ron Gourlay outlining their concern over Hazard’s name appearing on the petition.
The letter said it was inappropriate for Hazard to use his platform as a Chelsea footballer to air such sensitive political opinions and that he should apologize for the offense it caused.
On Sunday, however, Hazard’s agent denied any involvement on behalf of his client, saying: “Eden never speaks about his political opinions and he certainly never signed anything.”
Kanoute, a practicing Muslim, has created controversy in the past. In 2009, during a goal celebration, he lifted his jersey to reveal a shirt with “Palestine” written on it. He was given a yellow card and later fined by the Spanish soccer league.