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These Syria activists want you to boycott the Russia World Cup Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

These Syria activists want you to boycott the Russia World Cup

Syrian activists picketed West Ham's ground [Syria Solidarity UK]

Date of publication: 29 April, 2018

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A group of Syria activists have picketed English Premiership football matches, asking football fans to boycott the upcoming World Cup in Russia.

Syria activists in the UK have picketed Premiership football matches in London and Manchester, asking football fans to boycott this summer's World Cup in Russia.

The protest was held by Syria Solidarity UK outside West Ham's London Stadium for the match bewteen East London side West Ham and league leaders Manchester City. 

Also targeted was Old Trafford, for Manchester United's match against Arsenal, with activists holding banners highlighting the devastating role Russia's military has played in Syria.

Leaflets and red balloons were distributed to the thousands attending the games - calling for a boycott of this year's "War Cup".

Campaigners distributed 200 balloons and 850 leaflets during the campaigns.

Seven years of fighting has left more than 500,000 people, the vast majority civilians, dead from Syrian regime and Russia shelling and air raids. Russian fighter planes have launched near daily air raids on opposition towns and cities.

Russia was a key player in the recent bloody regime assault on the Syrian area of Eastern Ghouta, where weeks of intense bombing killed around 2,000 people.

Moscow has also blocked attempts for an independent investigation into a suspected gas attack on Douma, which killed at least 40 people in the opposition enclave.

Syria activists argue that due to Moscow's critical role in the war - supporting the Assad regime - the World Cup should be played at an independent venue.

"The World Cup has served as a symbol of unity and fair play among nations but this year FIFA has decided to host it in a country ruled by a regime which has shown a total disregard for human life and human rights around the world," Syria Solidarity UK - which organised the protest with Manchester-based Rethink Rebuild - said in a statement.

"Putin's Russia is the last place in the world which should be hosting this international tournament." 

Russia has been slammed by numerous human rights groups after the bombing of aid convoys, hospitals, and schools in Syria.

Closer to home, Moscow's suspected role in the poisoning of a former Russian agent and his daughter in Salisbury was also highighted by the activists.

Syria Solidarity UK has asking England fans not to buy tickets for the tournament held in Russia this June. 

They also demanded that FIFA move the venue of the World Cup to another country and for sponsors to pull their funding of Putin's "War Cup".

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