FA refuse plea to light up Wembley Stadium to show solidarity with Israel

Lord Mann had been leading discussions with the Football Association to light up Wembley's arch


LONDON - MARCH 09: The nearly complete Wembley Stadium rises above local buildings on March 9, 2007 in London. The Football Association is expected to receive the keys to the GBP757 million stadium in the next few days. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

The Football Association (FA) has refused calls by Government figures to light up the arch at Wembley Stadium to show solidarity with Israel.

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer has written to major UK sports bodies including the FA suggesting they pay tribute to Israeli victims of the Hamas terror attack in an appropriate manner at forthcoming events.

She said: “In the light of the attacks on Israel on behalf of the secretary of state we would encourage you to mark the events appropriately in line with previous events where sport has come together.”

Lord Mann, the government’s antisemitism adviser, is also in talks with the FA about illuminating the Wembley arch for a friendly match between England and Australia on Friday.

Speaking to the JC, he explained: “The Wembley Arch is highly visible across London and many Jewish communities will see it.

“What I’ve asked is for the arch to be lit up in the colours of the Jewish prayer shawl, blue and white.”

He added: “Football should have moved faster on this matter. It shows that football stands with the Jewish community.”

Meanwhile, Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer said he felt it was right that the arch should be lit up “as a gesture” to show solidarity with the Jewish State. 

He told LBC: “I do think they should be on the arch because I think the message has to go out that we stand with Israel, the UK stands with Israel, and that is a manifestation of that support.”

However, the FA said on Thursday that it would not light up the arch. Instead, they said black armbands will be worn and a period of silence observed at England's friendly against Australia.

"On Friday evening, we will remember the innocent victims of the devastating events in Israel and Palestine," the FA statement said.

"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."

The statement added that flags, replica kits and other representations of nationality not linked to England or Australia will not be permitted inside Wembley on Friday night.

Meanwhile, Jewish supporters’ organisations for Arsenal and Chelsea released statements urging governing bodies, organisations and clubs to offer their public sympathy and respect.

Arsenal’s Jewish Gooners group, said on X/Twitter: “By failing to even acknowledge what has occurred, the football world has demonstrated one thing loud and clear.

“That Jewish and Israeli lives are not equal to others. The Jewish fans and people of Israel are not part of this so-called family.

“Whatever happens now and whatever politically sensitive solution is achieved in football’s corridors of power, Jewish and Israeli football fans knew that when it really mattered, we were not supported.”

The Chelsea Jewish Supporters’ Group added: “We are disappointed with the silence within the wider football community and urge football leaders to speak out against terrorism and hatred.”

Meanwhile, Tottenham Hotspur are offering support to Israeli winger Manor Solomon, who opened up about his personal feelings about the terror attack. 

In a message posted on Instagram on Monday, Solomon said: “In the past two days my country, my family, my friends and my beloved people have been going through hell.

“Over 800 Israelis have been murdered – the most murdered in one say since the Holocaust!

“Over 150 people have been kidnapped – including women, children, babies and elderly people. Thousands of missiles and rockets have been fired towards innocent civilians!

“Hamas is not doing (and has never done) anything in favour of the Palestine people.

"Hamas is a Terror organisation with one mission only – to wipe the Jews off the planet.

“Supporting them means supporting terror, just like supporting Al-Qaeda, Isis and the attacks on 9.11. Israel has the right to defend itself! Pray for Israel.”

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