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FA chief apologises for Star of David and swastika comparison

Martin Glenn has been criticised for his remarks by the head of the UK’s Jewish Leadership Council.

English FA chief executive Martin Glenn
English FA chief executive Martin Glenn

FA CHIEF EXECUTIVE Martin Glenn has apologised for comments regarding the Star of David after he was criticised by the head of the UK’s Jewish Leadership Council.

Simon Johnson, head of the JLC, accused Glenn of making ‘offensive’ and ‘ill-judged’ remarks when he listed the Jewish symbol and the swastika among political or religious emblems whose display in games could break football rules.

Glenn had been trying to explain why the FA was right to punish Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola for displaying a yellow ribbon in support of Catalan independence activists.

“I would like to apologise for any offence caused by the examples I gave when referring to political and religious symbols in football, specifically in reference to the Star of David, which is a hugely important symbol to Jewish people all over the world,” Glenn said in a statement on Monday.

“I will be speaking with the Jewish Leadership Council and to [anti-racism group] Kick It Out to personally apologise.”

Earlier, Johnson had tweeted: ”I have no problem with the FA clarifying Rule 4 and specifying that ALL religious symbols are prohibited on a kit if that is the case.

“But, in explaining that decision, the CEO of the FA’s examples are ill judged [sic] and in poor taste.

The Star of David is a Jewish religious symbol of immense importance to Jews worldwide. To put it in the same bracket as the swastika and Robert Mugabe is offensive and inappropriate.

“We will raise formally with the FA the Jewish community’s deep disappointment with this statement.”

Glenn had been defending the decision to charge Guardiola for wearing a yellow ribbon in matches, a decision that prompted suggestions of FA double standards, after it campaigned for FIFA to allow players to wear commemorative poppies during internationals.

“We have re-written Law 4 of the game so that things like a poppy are okay,” Glenn said.

“But things that are going to be highly divisive, and that could be strong religious symbols, it could be the Star of David, it could be the hammer and sickle, it could be a swastika, anything like [former Zimbabwe president] Robert Mugabe on your shirt, these are the things we don’t want.”

Glenn went on to reference UKIP, a British Eurosceptic political party, and the terrorist Islamic State group.

“Should we have someone with a UKIP badge, someone with an ISIS badge? That’s why you have to be pretty tough that local, regional, national party organisations cannot use football shirts to represent them,” he added.

- Omni

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