Algerian footballer Youcef Atal, who plays for France’s Nice, and Dutch forward Anwar El Ghazi of German club Mainz 05, have faced disciplinary action for their respective social media posts concerning the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Youcef Atal, a prominent Muslim footballer, found himself suspended by Nice on Wednesday after reposting an allegedly anti-Jewish message on social media, linked to the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict. The club took swift action, stating that Atal’s post, which is said to have included content glorifying terrorism, was of a serious nature.
The suspension was initiated prior to any potential legal proceedings. The player is suspected of sharing a video from a Palestinian preacher on Instagram, which reportedly called for violence against Jewish individuals. The Nice prosecutor’s office is investigating Atal for “glorification of terrorism” and “public incitement to hatred or violence because of a particular religion.”
The French Football Federation (FFF) announced that its ethics committee would also investigate Atal, with FFF chief Philippe Diallo condemning the content of the post. Atal responded by assuring his Instagram followers that he would “never support a message of hate.” Despite his public apology, Nice decided to suspend the 27-year-old defender. Atal has been with the club since 2018 and has made 117 appearances in various competitions.
Anwar El Ghazi of Mainz 05 found himself in a similar situation when the Bundesliga club suspended him for a social media post about the ongoing Middle East conflict that they deemed “unacceptable.” In a statement, Mainz 05 acknowledged the complexity of the Middle East conflict and distanced itself from El Ghazi’s post, stating that it did not align with the club’s values.
The club did not provide specific details about the content of El Ghazi’s deleted post but mentioned that they had engaged in an in-depth discussion with the player before making the suspension decision. The club did not specify the duration of the suspension.
These suspensions come as a reminder of the careful scrutiny that social media posts by football players receive, as clubs and authorities seek to uphold standards of sportsmanship and social responsibility.