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FA chief executive meets Jewish leaders over Star of David comment

Martin Glenn repeats apology for comparing the Jewish symbol with a swastika and hails his organisation's strong relationship with the community

    Martin Glenn
    Martin Glenn Photo: Getty Images

    Martin Glenn, the chief executive of the Football Association (FA), has promised greater cooperation with the Jewish community after his comparison of the Star of David with a swastika sparked outrage.

    Mr Glenn reiterated his apology to the communityon Wednesdayy when he met Simon Johnson, the chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC) and Dave Rich, the Community Security Trust’s (CST) head of policy.

    Last week the football chief bracketed the Magen David with other prohibited, “highly divisive” symbols, including the swastika, the hammer and sickle, and images of Robert Mugabe.

    The comments, made in discussing a yellow ribbon worn by Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, were branded by Mr Johnson at the time as “ill-judged and in poor taste”.

    After today’s meeting, at the JLC’s headquarters, Mr Glenn clarified that the Star of David is permitted to be worn during football matches in England, provided it is within a club’s crest.

    He said: “I want to take this opportunity to apologise again for the offence caused when I referenced political and religious symbols in football, specifically when I mentioned the Star of David.

    “As an organisation more broadly, we actively promote faith inclusion through football. We have developed a series of resources to support the game, such as an annual Faith in Football Calendar, providing guidance to grassroots football on fixtures and respecting Jewish religious observance.  

    “In addition we have long-standing and important relationships with the Community Security Trust which supports our disciplinary and education work with participants in the game – the ‘Quenelle’ case involving Nicholas Anelka in 2013 is a great example of this – as well as Maccabi GB, the Jewish community’s primary sports body, which continues to continue to offer guidance and support around Jewish matters related to faith.”

    The CST said it requested a meeting with the FA as soon as it learned of Mr Glenn’s initial comments.

    A spokesman said it took the opportunity to “explain why his comments caused particular offence to the Jewish community”, as well as to discuss the issue of antisemitism in football.

    He said: “Martin’s comments caused particular offence across the Jewish community and we valued the opportunity to discuss them in a positive and constructive way with him today.

    “The FA has a good track record in encouraging Jewish participation in football and we will continue to support their work promoting inclusion and combating antisemitism in the sport.”

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