Fans observe minute’s silence for victims of the ongoing conflict in Israel and Palestine before England’s friendly with Australia, despite criticism of the FA for refusing to light up the Wembley arch
- Fans observed the minute’s silence ahead of Friday’s friendly at Wembley
- The FA decided not to light up the Wembley arch in Israel’s colours for the game
- Almost 3,000 people have died from the conflict involving Israel and Palestine
Fans observed the minute’s silence for the victims of the horrific events in Israel and Palestine before England’s friendly with Australia at Wembley.
The FA had requested for respects to be paid in the form of a period of silence, with almost 3,000 people dying since the attacks from Hamas terrorists last Friday, which led to retaliation from Israel in Gaza.
There had been fears of unrest at tonight’s game, with the Met Police increasing the number of officers on duty, but the minute’s silence was impeccably observed.
Mail Sport were told that officers will arrest anyone at the game expressing support for Hamas, Hezbollah or other terrorist organisations, and will work with stewards to confiscate any flags, shirts and scarves representing countries other than England and Australia.
Pro-Palestine rallies have taken place across London over the past week leading to concerns that tonight’s game could be targeted.
Players and fans observed the minute’s silence impeccably ahead of Friday night’s game
The minute’s silence came after the FA opted not to light up the Wembley arch in the colours of the Israel flag
The Wembley Arch was lit up in the colours of the Ukrainian flag just a day after Russia invaded the country in February 2022 – though the FA decided not to do the same for Israel
It was also illuminated in rainbow colours in support of the LGBTQ + community amid the ‘OneLove’ armband row at the Qatar World Cup
An expression of support for Palestine and flying the flag is not a criminal offence, though, so arrests are only to be made if individuals are perceived as endorsing terrorism.
The FA moved to ban all flags, shirts and scarves for both the Australia game and Tuesday’s Euro 2024 qualifier against Italy, however, although questions have been raised over how strictly this will be enforced.
There had also been a growing anger over the lack of action before the game after the FA refused to light up the Wembley arch with the colours of the Israel flag – following the attacks by Hamas terrorists.
Last year, the arch turned blue and yellow in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, while it was also illuminated in rainbow colours in support of LGBT people amid the ‘OneLove’ armband row at the Qatar World Cup.
Chelsea Jewish Supporters’ Group were among those to criticise the decision, tweeting: ‘This spineless response is why we need people to speak out against terrorism.’
Neil O’Brien MP described the decision as ‘just pathetic’ while Lord Ian Austin said it was a ‘complete disgrace’.
The decision was made despite more than 1,200 deaths in Israel since Palestinian militant group Hamas launched attacks last weekend.
The Met Police decided to increase the number of officers on duty at Wembley amid fears of unrest triggered by the horrific events in Israel and Gaza over the past week
Protests have been held around the world (including in London pictured) by those supporting either Israel or Palestine
Instead, the FA called for fans to hold a minute’s silence to ‘remember the innocent victims’ on both sides of the conflict. Players also wore black armbands.
The FA’s statement on Thursday read: ‘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 [13 Oct] and Italy [17 Oct].
‘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.
Rabbi Alex Goldberg, who is the chair of the FA’s Faith in Football group, resigned from his position over the governing body’s refusal to light up the Wembley arch in Israel’s colours.
He said the planned measures are not enough, especially given the arch was lit up to mark the invasion of Ukraine, terror attacks in France, Pele’s death and various causes
Goldberg – who has worked with the FA for 16 years – also told them that their Faith in Football group will no longer continue to work with the governing body.
Rabbi Alex Goldberg told the FA that he was ‘profoundly disappointed’ with their decision and resigned from his position as the chair of FA’s Faith in Football group
Almost 3,000 people have already died in the Israel-Hamas war in both Israel and Gaza (residents pictured evacuating Gaza City after warning of increased military operations’
He added: ‘It’s imperative that our responses and actions, especially in international platforms like those at Wembley Stadium, are unequivocal in their support for the victims of such atrocities.
‘Your formula looks like a form of moral equivalence, which is just not appropriate this week. The decision not to light up the (Wembley) arch has been received badly tonight within the community, where attacks on Jews in England have already gone up three-fold.
‘Many see the statement —only to permit flags and representations of the competing nations — as eradicating Jewish symbols and it has compounded grievances with the gravity of the recent events — but also inadvertently neglects the security and emotional well-being of Jewish fans who may be in attendance.
‘Planned gestures of wearing black armbands and observing a moment of silence are respectful; however, they may not fully convey the depth of solidarity and support necessary for the communities affected, both directly and indirectly, by these atrocious acts of violence, nor help give reassurance to Jews being attacked in this country now.’
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