The chairman of the Israeli Professional Football Leagues, Erez Halfon, has expressed deep disappointment with the Premier League’s perceived reluctance to issue a clear condemnation of the recent Hamas attacks on Israel. Halfon’s criticism follows the Football Association’s decision not to illuminate the Wembley arch in the colors of the Israeli flag or the Jewish prayer shawl, despite mounting pressure from British politicians and Jewish groups in the UK.
In a letter addressed to Richard Masters, the Premier League’s chief executive, Halfon emphasized the need for English football to stand in solidarity with the Israeli citizens who lost their lives during the attacks. He highlighted the unequivocal condemnation of Hamas by various world leaders and stressed the responsibility of football to speak out against such acts of violence.
The FA’s Faith in Football group chair, Rabbi Alex Goldberg, reportedly resigned in protest, citing profound disappointment in the FA’s failure to pay specific tribute to the victims of the recent atrocities. The Premier League, in response to the criticism, announced that a moment’s silence would be observed at its upcoming games, with players and officials wearing black armbands to mark the escalating crisis in Israel and Gaza.
However, Halfon, referring to the attacks as “Israel’s 9/11,” insisted on the need for stronger condemnation and requested a meeting with Masters to discuss the matter further. The Premier League, on the other hand, emphasized its shock and sadness at the escalating crisis, expressing heartfelt sympathies for the affected communities.
While the FA has faced backlash for not illuminating the Wembley arch, it has announced a period of silence for all victims of the conflict between Israel and Palestine. Notably, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign has welcomed the FA’s decision and commended its resistance to external pressures, advocating for a more neutral stance in the ongoing conflict.
In the wake of these developments, John Mann, an advisor to the government on antisemitism, has called for the resignation of key FA figures if the silence is disrupted or if pro-Palestinian supporters display Palestinian flags inside Wembley during the matches.
The Premier League has been approached for further comments on the matter.