Three arrested as football match is invaded in sports boycott

In a scene reminiscent of demonstrations against South African apartheid, activists invaded the pitch, carrying Palestinian flags and a huge banner demanding an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land.

PSC, Big campaign, 2002

Campaigners picketing outside the stadium handed out leaflets to would be match-goers, explaining the sporting boycott of Israel. Match attendence was down from an expected 2,500 to a disappointing 1,415.

PSC, Big campaign, 2002

One of the activists, Siama, said: ‘My purpose of being there along with a group of others sympathetic to the Palestinian cause was to stage a pitch invasion to protest the fact that a British football club was playing an Israeli team when the Israeli military are killing men women and children in the illegally Occupied Territories. Palestinian children under curfew are shot while playing football.’

Before the activists were able to stage their action, six were removed from the stadium, apparently for having a Palestinian flag in their possession. The three activists remained managed to get onto the pitch with a banner and Palestinian flag.

The activists are charged with ‘going on the playing area’ of Leyton Orient Football Club ‘without lawful authority or lawful excuse’. The hearing is scheduled for August 6.

The three people who invaded the pitch were arrested and spent most of the evening in custody.