FA chief apologises over 'ill-judged' Star of David comments

FA chief apologises over 'ill-judged' Star of David comments

Football Association chief executive Martin Glenn has apologised after being criticised for his "ill-judged", "offensive" and "inappropriate" explanation of his organisation's response to Pep Guardiola's yellow ribbon.

In trying to justify the FA's decision to charge Guardiola over the ribbon, which he wears in support of two imprisoned leaders of the Catalan independence movement, Glenn appeared to equate the Star of David with a swastika.

Glenn on Monday issued an apology, which has been accepted by the Jewish Leadership Council.

"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," he said.

"I will be speaking with the Jewish Leadership Council and to Kick It Out to personally apologise."

Following Glenn's apology, Jewish Leadership Council chief executive Simon Johnson said: "I spoke to Martin Glenn today. I explained why his comments yesterday had caused such serious offence.

"Martin apologised, explained the context for his comments and stated that he did not intend to cause offence, which I accepted.

"I have thanked the FA for their apology and I am glad that this has been dealt with swiftly."

The pair have agreed to meet in the near future.

Guardiola on Monday evening admitted an FA charge relating to the ribbon and has requested a paper hearing with the governing body.

Glenn defended the disciplinary move, insisting comparisons cannot be made with sides choosing to display a poppy on their shirt to commemorate Armistice Day.

"We have rewritten Law 4 of the game so that things like a poppy are OK but things that are going to be highly divisive are not," Glenn said in a number of national newspapers.

"That could be strong religious symbols, it could be the Star of David, it could the hammer and sickle, it could be a swastika, anything like Robert Mugabe on your shirt - these are the things we don't want."

Reacting to Glenn's comments, Jewish Leadership Council chief executive Johnson said: "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 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."

Holocaust Educational Trust chief executive Karen Pollock said: "I find these comments astounding - and highly offensive.

"It shows a huge lack of understanding around the difference between the Star of David - a religious symbol - and the swastika used by the Nazis."

A statement from anti-discrimination campaign group Kick It Out read: "Kick It Out welcomes the apology from Martin Glenn....following comments made in relation to the use of political and religious symbols in football.

"Glenn has contacted the organisation to clarify his comments on the Star of David and the Swastika symbol, and to reiterate his apology to the Jewish community in particular."

- Press Association & Digital Desk

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