Pro-Palestinian postings: Protesting professionals: Hamas terror and the war in Gaza are putting football clubs in trouble

Next weekend, tens of thousands of people and all Bundesliga players will remember the victims of Hamas' terrorist attack on Israeli civilians in the stadiums.

Pro-Palestinian postings: Protesting professionals: Hamas terror and the war in Gaza are putting football clubs in trouble

Next weekend, tens of thousands of people and all Bundesliga players will remember the victims of Hamas' terrorist attack on Israeli civilians in the stadiums. The minute's silence recommended by the German Football Association and the German Football League because of the terrible images of the Middle East conflict will ensure a moment of silence. According to pro-Palestinian contributions from players, the highly complicated situation has long since become a major challenge for the clubs and dealing with it is difficult.

“The constitutionally protected freedom of expression is particularly limited when crimes such as insults or incitement are committed,” said Ulf Baranowsky from the Association of Contractual Football Players (VDV) to the German Press Agency on Monday. “The extent to which there are criminal violations and whether labor law sanctions are legally compliant must be assessed on a case-by-case basis.” Particularly in armed conflicts, public figures should live up to their role as role models, said Baranowsky. “The goal must be to de-escalate and create lasting peace.”

In the past few days, professionals Anwar El Ghazi from 1. FSV Mainz 05 and Noussair Mazraoui from FC Bayern Munich, among others, have caused a stir and criticism with posts on social media. The former German national player Mesut Özil and the ex-world footballer Karim Benzema, who moved from Real Madrid to Al-Ittihad in Saudi Arabia in the summer, also commented on the conflict with a clear pro-Palestinian tendency.

The footballers' contributions raise many questions. El Ghazi has already been released from playing and training at his club. “Mainz 05 respects that there are different perspectives on the complex Middle East conflict that has been going on for decades,” said the Rheinhessen. "However, the club distances itself from the content of the post as it does not reflect the values ​​of our club." Bayern had announced that they wanted to have a conversation with the Moroccan Mazraoui after his return from the international trip this week.

The judicial authorities are investigating Youcef Atal from the French club OGC Nice. The Algerian international is suspected of having publicly supported terrorism. The 27-year-old was suspended by his club because of his pro-Palestine post.

In many cases, the use of the slogan "Free Palestine" causes debate - also because it allows for different interpretations. “The problem is that these players, who earn millions, don’t understand the meaning of “Free Palestine,” said Alon Meyer, president of the German-Jewish Makkabi Sports Association, on Sky. “The solidarity with the people in Palestine that you might want to express with a post like this is perfectly fine,” said Meyer. However, “Free Palestine” means “a free Palestine from the river to the sea against Israel’s right to exist and that just isn’t possible.”

As a rule, the clubs explicitly point out to their players that they do not appear on social media as private individuals, but rather as representatives of their employer and therefore should not be active there in a way that is detrimental to the club. However, it is almost impossible to prepare yourself contractually for all possible cases. Which leads to the question: What should still be tolerated and what should be sanctioned? If a player approves of acts of war, there may be criminal consequences for him. If he only shares certain views, the clubs' discretion is more important - and this is sometimes huge.

“Prevention is also important,” said VdV President Baranowsky. "Especially in sport, it is important to sensitize young people at an early stage and to talk to them if they have problems." The billion-dollar industry of professional football is particularly feeling this these days.

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