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David Bernstein: This swastika row is not a surprise - the FA is not known for its cultural sensitivity

"Anyone with some awareness of 20th century history would know how shocking it would be to many people to associate the Jewish national symbol with an emblem symbolic with fascist terror and slaughter."

    David Bernstein was FA chairman from 2011 to 2013 (Photo: Getty Images)
    David Bernstein was FA chairman from 2011 to 2013 (Photo: Getty Images)

    It was extremely upsetting, but not altogether surprising, that the chief executive of the Football Association should bracket together the Star of David and the swastika.

    Upsetting for obvious reasons. Anyone with some awareness of 20th century history would know how shocking it would be to many people to associate the Jewish national symbol and flag of Israel with an emblem symbolic with fascist terror and slaughter.

    Not altogether surprising as the FA is not always known for its cultural sensitivity.

    Let me emphasise that there will be many at the FA concerned and embarrassed at this gauche comment which will certainly not help the governing body’s credibility.

    For the record, Martin Glenn has apologised and I am sure he spoke without malice but with unacceptable carelessness.

    On the wider issue of political emblems, I would be generally supportive of the FA’s position.

    Whilst the cause of Catalan independence may be of limited contentiousness to many, if allowed, it could be the thin end of the wedge.

    How long before someone wishes to wear a “Marine Le Pen for President” badge, or one promoting the re-election of Donald Trump?

    Drawing a line between the “possibly acceptable” and the “out of the question” would prove extremely difficult.

    The FA has decided to ban all such statements. I agree with their position.

    The poppy is somewhat different. In my view, it is a symbol of remembrance and for a century has exercised a strong emotional appeal with the people of the UK. It is not overtly political. As such, I believe it is proper to be worn on English football or other shirts. I did promote this in my time as chairman of the FA.

    These are difficult, sensitive, and emotive issues. All in football need to exercise care and judgment in dealing with them to avoid giving unnecessary offence.

    As the governing body of our national game, the FA should be only too aware of this responsibility and its senior executives need to measure their pronouncements accordingly.

    David Bernstein was FA Chairman between 2011 to 2013 and Manchester City chairman 1998 to 2003

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