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Wembley’s arch was lit up to mark the invasion of Ukraine, terror attacks in France, Pele’s death and various causes célèbres – but the FA today continues to refuse to honour Israelis brutally murdered by Hamas in the same way.

The bureaucrats running English football have been branded ‘spineless’ and ‘weak’ for failing to properly mark the massacres of Jewish people by terrorists. They have even banned anyone from wearing Israel kits or bringing in Israeli flags to England’s friendly with Australia tonight.

But Wembley chiefs didn’t hesitate to light up the stadium’s world-famous arch when the world watched in similar horror when Putin‘s Russia invaded Ukraine. In 2015 it wore the familiar colours of the French Tricolore as a sign of solidarity with all the victims of the Bataclan attack in Paris where extremists killed 130 people.

Ex-Justice Minister Lord Wolfson said last night: ‘This decision is wrong. The FA lit Wembley arch for those murdered by terrorists while dancing in a Paris nightclub in 2015. But not for those murdered, raped, and taken hostage while dancing at a music festival in Israel. Perhaps this “devastating event” wasn’t devastating enough?’

The arch has long been used to mark tragedies, causes and institutions. A year after Bataclan, it was turned red as a mark of respect and sympathy following attacks outside Besiktas’ stadium in Turkey. 

And at the end of 2022, when the pioneer of modern football Pele died, the arch was lit up in the colours of Brazil with Pele’s name in bright lights. Weeks earlier rainbow colours in support of the LGBTQ + community shone out even though the men’s team shamefully ducked wearing the ‘OneLove’ armband for fear of upsetting the authorities at the Qatar World Cup.

Support for the Alzheimer’s Society also led to the arch changing colour. There has also been support on International Women’s Day last year, for the NHS in 2021 and International Day of Persons with Disability in 2020.

Yet in a decision that has appalled many, the FA is staunchly refusing to light up Wembley’s arch in the Star of David colours to remember at least 1,300 Israelis, including babies and children, who were murdered in the surprise attack by Hamas. Thousands more have been injured, many critically.

Wembley’s arch lit in yellow and blue in an expression of solidarity with Ukraine following Russia’s invasion – but the FA will not afford the same respect to the Israelis murdered by Hamas terrorists

It was also illuminated in rainbow colours in support of the LGBTQ + community amid the ‘OneLove’ armband row at the Qatar World Cup 

The arch was also changed to green and yellow to remember icon Pele

After the Bataclan massacre in 2015, Wembley remembered those who lost their lives

In 2021 the arch turned blue on World Alzheimer’s Day

The Culture Secretary led criticism of the Football Association last night after it refused to light up the Wembley arch in support of Israel tonight.

Senior executives reportedly fear doing so could be ‘divisive’ and don’t want to be seen to be taking sides in the Middle East conflict.

Instead they called for fans to hold a minute’s silence to ‘remember the innocent victims’ on both sides and banned Israeli and Palestinian flags from the England v Australia match. Players will also wear black armbands.

The move has provoked outrage because the football governing body has previously been quick to virtue signal over LGBT rights and Black Lives Matter. Jewish groups called the FA ‘utterly shameful’ and ‘spineless’ for not standing by them, while MPs were furious.

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer said: ‘I am extremely disappointed by the FA’s decision not to light up the Wembley Stadium arch following last weekend’s horrific terrorist attacks in Israel, and have made my views clear to the FA.

‘It is especially disappointing in light of the FA’s bold stance on other terrorist attacks in the recent past.

‘Words and actions matter. The Government is clear: We stand with Israel.’

England manager Gareth Southgate (pictured) said that he recognised how ‘difficult’ the FA’s decision was, adding that he was not involved in the discussions but said his squad would get behind the stance taken

Tory party chairman Lee Anderson said: ‘The cowards at the FA need to man up and light up Wembley in support of Israel. Failure to do so will leave a dark stain on our beautiful game.’

Joseph Cohen, executive director of the Israel Advocacy Movement, said: ‘That the FA is too cowardly to show solidarity for the dead leaves us angry, hurt and upset. 1,200 people were murdered in the biggest massacre of the Jews since the Holocaust and they cannot even flick a switch to show respect for the dead.’

The Chelsea Jewish Supporters Group said: ‘This spineless response is why we need people to speak out against terrorism.’

Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said: ‘After the Bataclan massacre in 2015, when 90 were murdered at a Paris nightclub, La Marseillaise was played at every Premier League stadium the following weekend. When hundreds of innocent Israelis were murdered, raped and kidnapped in a co-ordinated terrorist campaign, unequalled since 9/11, the FA’s response is ‘to remember the victims of the conflicts in Israel and Palestine’. This weak response brings no credit on the FA.’

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has called on Wembley to display the flag of Israel, saying that ‘the message has to go out that we stand with Israel’.

Wembley lit up its arch in yellow and blue in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It showed the tricolour after the 2015 Paris terror attacks, as well as the Turkish flag after those in Istanbul the following year.

It displayed a rainbow flag in solidarity with the LGBT community while the Qatar World Cup was on, supported International Women’s Day last year, the NHS in 2021 and International Day of Persons with Disability in 2020.

The FA has even marked Holocaust Memorial Day in the past. But in a meeting to decide their response to Saturday’s murderous rampage by Hamas terrorists, FA executives were told displaying the Israeli flag could be divisive.

It is understood senior FA officials are wary of a perception that they might be taking sides in the Middle East conflict. The move stands in stark contrast with the Royal Family – the King and the Prince and Princess of Wales unequivocally condemned the terrorist atrocity on Thursday. In a statement, the FA said: ‘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 and with all the communities who are affected by this ongoing conflict.

‘England and Australia players will wear black armbands … and there will also be a period of silence held before kick-off.’

Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk

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