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Europe

Empty stadium hosts Sweden - Israel tennis match

©

Video by Fiona CAMERON

Latest update : 2009-03-07

Around two hundred people demonstrated Friday in Malmo, Sweden, outside a Davis Cup first-round match between Israel and Sweden. Local authorities decided fans should not attend the three-day competition because of security concerns.

AFP - Some 200 people demonstrated Friday outside a sports arena in southern Sweden to protest against the Scandinavian country's Davis Cup tie against Israel, as a massive police deployment watched on.
   
A "Stop the Match" campaign has been underway in Sweden since Israel's offensive in Gaza erupted last December.
   

As a result of the security fears, Malmo city council ordered the three-day World Group first round match played behind closed doors.
   
On Friday, when the first rubber was played, a crowd made up mostly of youths, notably from extreme-left circles, called for the tie to be stopped and chanted anti-Israeli slogans in an unauthorised protest.
   
Some had been standing outside the arena in blustery cold weather since early morning.
   
More than 1,000 police officers were on hand to keep an eye on the situation, amid fears that violent protests could erupt.
   
The "Stop the Match" network is planning an authorised demonstration with up to 12,000 participants on Saturday, but police expect that protest to be relatively calm.
   
Outside the Baltiska Hallen arena, police in uniform and civilian clothing were patrolling the area on foot, in cars and on horseback. A few policemen were on the roof of the arena keeping a lookout as a helicopter hovered over the crowd.
   
A group of ethnic Swedes, waving Palestinian flags and posters blasting "the match of shame", improvised a short play about the Israeli offensive in Gaza and danced to keep warm in the cold.
   
"It's hypocritical to say that you can't mix sports and politics. Everything is politics," Anders, a 30-year-old demonstrator who refused to divulge his full name, told AFP.
   
"You can't shut your eyes in the face of an Israeli state that oppresses an entire people and that has just killed 1,300 Palestinians, most of them civilians and of whom hundreds were children," he said.

Date created : 2009-03-06

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