Wembley’s Decision Sparks Political Outrage

Pressure Mounts On Wembley To support Israel

Stock image of Wembley Stadium. Credit: Wembley Stadium/Faceboookcom

WEMBLEY STADIUM’S famous arch has been illuminated in the past to show support for such causes as the Pride movement, but calls to show support for the recent atrocities in Israel have fallen on deaf ears.

The Football Association (FA) of England declined requests to illuminate the iconic Wembley Stadium with the blue and white colours of Israel’s flag, marking the deaths in the ongoing Hamas attacks, writes Politico.

FA’s Symbolic Gesture

Instead of the Israeli colours, the FA have decided that during the England versus Australia game scheduled for Friday, October 13, players would don black armbands.

In a statement, the FA announced: ‘On Friday evening, we will remember the innocent victims of the devastating events in Israel and Palestine.

‘Our thoughts are with them, and their families and friends in England and Australia and with all the communities who are affected by this ongoing conflict. We stand for humanity and an end to the death, violence, fear and suffering.

‘England and Australia players will wear black armbands during their match at Wembley Stadium and there will also be a period of silence held before kick-off.

‘Following discussions with partners and external stakeholders, we will only permit flags, replica kits and other representations of nationality for the competing nations inside Wembley Stadium for the upcoming matches against Australia (Oct 13) and Italy (Oct 17).’

This decision means that both Israeli and Palestinian flags are prohibited. This move has been made despite the fact that several British politicians have urged the FA to express solidarity with Israel.

‘The British Red Cross have also launched an emergency appeal to support the people affected by the humanitarian crisis in the region, and we will promote this appeal within the stadium on Friday, the statement concluded.

Politicians Speak Out

Yesterday, Health Secretary Steve Barclay voiced his opinion on Sky News: ‘We stand with Israel, and I think we’ve seen that with parliament, we’ve seen it with Number 10.’ He was alluding to other buildings that showcased Israeli colours. He added, ‘I think it would be fitting to show that with Wembley as well.’

Health Minister Neil O’Brien labelled the FA’s decision as ‘pathetic’. Amanda Holloway, a government whip, posted on X, the platform succeeding Twitter, ‘When terrorist attacks happened in France, Ukraine & Turkey the FA did the right thing.’ She highlighted Wembley’s past gestures of adopting colours of nations under attack. ‘This should not be controversial or political.’ Conservative MP Heather Wheeler criticised the FA’s decision, calling it ‘utterly the wrong decision.’

What Should Wembley Do?

The decision by the FA is bound to polarise opinion amongst the public, and will no doubt fuel debate about what part sport should play in unrelated world events and politics. In the past the FA has earned praise and also faced criticism when it allowed players to ‘take the knee’ in support of Black Lives Matter.

Rising Death Toll

Amidst this controversy, the casualties from the conflict continue to escalate. As of Thursday, over 1,400 Palestinians have perished due to Israeli strikes since the unexpected attack by Hamas militants into Israel the previous Saturday. Israel’s public broadcaster Kan reported a death toll of at least 1,300 Israelis with thousands more wounded.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.