The controversy over whether George Galloway was anti-Semitic for claiming Israeli flag-waving Spurs supporters are backing a “racist state” may rumble on for some time – but why were these fans even allowed to bring such flags to matches when it is against FA rules?
These rules ban political, ideological, religious, offensive or provocative slogans or messages at matches. Originally applied to players and team officials, they have been widened in practice to include supporters.
The most notorious example of this appears to be UEFA’s decision to fine Celtic £8,615 for waving the flag of Palestine at a 2016 match against Israeli team Hapoel Be’er Sheva in 2016:
FOR EVERYONE THAT MISSED THE CONTEXT
The absolute hypocrisy
Here's the thing, in a democracy you are free to fly whatever flag you wish and you are free to criticise the flying of that flag, when 1 flag is outlawed and criricism of the other is also…you decide@georgegalloway pic.twitter.com/v1okZxj3iH
— Han Dodges 🤬🤔😂✌️ (@Satiresocialist) June 4, 2019
UEFA had said its rules forbid the use of “gestures, words, objects or any other means to transmit any message that is not fit for a sports event, particularly messages that are of a political, ideological, religious, offensive or provocative nature”. It was said to have described the Palestinian flag as an “illicit banner”. Is it?
It’s a reference to Law 4 of the game. The UK’s Football Association has the same rule, referring to players and team officials. But UEFA’s widening of its application creates a tension that needs to be addressed.
In 2018, FA chief Martin Glenn was rebuked for saying the Star of David was among the symbols he believes breach the soccer laws banning religious and political imagery. The Jewish Leadership Council said his words were “offensive and inappropriate”, as the symbol is on the Israeli flag which appears on national team kits and is displayed in stadiums.
Such symbols are allowed on national kits, though.
The issue is one of hypocrisy, as “Han Dodges” pointed out in the tweet above.
Why should Israeli flags be permitted in football stadiums but not those of Palestine? That seems to show very clear political bias by national and international football associations.
It seems if the rules had been correctly and impartially applied, Mr Galloway would not have fallen foul of his now-former employers at TalkRadio, because there would have been no Israeli flags at Spurs matches.
It seems the FA has a serious question to answer.
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