Arab footballers in Europe face pressure to withdraw support for Gaza

Mahmoud Elassal , Friday 20 Oct 2023

While Israel continues its relentless bombardment of Gaza and obstructs humanitarian assistance to the 2.3 million Palestinians, European clubs are pressuring Arab football players to withdraw their support for the enclave.



Arab players in Europe have been coerced into refraining from showing solidarity with the Palestinian people in response to Israel's massacres.

Mazraoui's escapes suspension at Bayern Munich

Moroccan right back Noussair Mazraoui faced scrutiny from Bayern Munich after sharing a pro-Palestinian video on social media.

Following his return from national team duty, Bayern Munich contacted Mazraoui and held a private meeting with the player in Munich.

After investigations, Bayern chief executive Jan-Christian Dreesen stated, "Mazraoui has credibly assured us that as a peace-loving person, he resolutely rejects terror and war and never meant to cause any irritation with his posts."

The 25-year-old Moroccan star subsequently deleted his Instagram post.

Moroccan El-Ghazi suspended at Mainz

German club Mainz suspended Dutch forward of Moroccan descent, Anwar El-Ghazi, due to what they deemed an "unacceptable" social media post regarding Israel's war on Gaza.

Despite deleting the supporting social media post, El-Ghazi's contract with Mainz was terminated after just one month with the team.

The former Aston Villa and Everton winger joined Mainz in September on a two-year contract until 2025, but has now been suspended from training and games; a rare occurrence related to players' social media content.

El-Ghazi had made three appearances in the German top-flight this season, registering one assist, but now faces an indefinite absence from Bo Svensson's team.

Algeria's Atal suspended and prosecuted at Nice

Algeria defender Youcef Atal has been suspended by French club Nice after posting a video expressing support for Gaza on social media.

The Nice public prosecutor's office has initiated a preliminary investigation into Atal on charges of "defending terrorism."

Nice stated that Atal has been suspended "until further notice."

The 27-year-old has since deleted the Instagram post and issued a written apology.

"The player has acknowledged his error by quickly withdrawing the sharing of the publication and has offered a public apology in writing," Nice said in a statement.

Tunisian Laidouni under investigation at Union Berlin

German club Union Berlin announced that they will investigate Tunisian midfielder Aissa Laidouni following a social media post against the ongoing aggression in Gaza.

Fans of the Berlin club initiated a campaign on social networks, demanding disciplinary action against the midfielder.

"The club's management will speak with Aissa Laidouni about his social media solidarity post with the Palestinians," Union Berlin's spokesman stated.

"Yes, there have been similar cases in the German Bundesliga, but they were different," he added.

The 26-year-old published a photo of the Palestinian flag on his Instagram account.

Algeria's Bensebaini faces criticism at Dortmund

Borussia Dortmund has chosen not to take action against Algerian defender Ramy Bensebaini after he was pictured on Instagram wearing a scarf featuring the Palestinian and Algerian flags.

"His homeland has close ties to the Palestinian territories. The national team used the scarves to express its sympathy for the victims among the civilian population in Gaza, many of whom are children," Dortmund's officer Daniel Lörcher explained.

"Ramy assured us in a personal conversation that he is only showing solidarity with the Palestinian civilian population," Lörcher added.

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