Anger as French ban Israeli flags but let Palestinian flags fly


Israeli fans were banned from bringing their flags into a French stadium while opposing fans flew the Palestinian flag, it has been claimed.

On Thursday night, Beitar Jerusalem played St Etienne in the second leg of their Europa League play-off.

One, an Israeli sports news site, reported that Beitar supporters were prevented from taking Israeli flags inside the football ground. Fans of St Etienne waved both French and Palestinian flags during the game. A pro-Palestinian rally had been held in the city on Thursday afternoon before the match.

Israel supporters reacted with anger on social media. One user wrote: “I look forward to French fans when they face a Russian team hoisting dozens of Ukranian flags in provocation while the Russians are banned from bringing in their own flags.

“Or how about when they ban Turks from hoisting Turkish fans when Fenerbahçe or Galatasaray come to visit and the French hoist Kurdish flags aloft.”

Security was increased for the game, with reasons given by French authorities including recent terror attacks in France, but also the reputation for violence among a small percentage of Beitar fans. Israeli authorities recently arrested 51 members of “La Familia”, the club’s Ultra fan group, with police seizing dozens of grenades and 1kg of explosives.

The match ended 0-0, with Beitar knocked out as a result; they had lost the first leg, on August 17, two-one.

Representatives from the Simon Weisenthal Centre subsequently wrote to Uefa about the incident, asking for “harsh disciplinary measures” to be imposed on the French club.

Uefa responded by informing the concerned individuals that disciplinary proceedings have been instigated against St Etienne for a number of issues, including “Illicit Banners.”

The judgment is due on September 22, when Uefa’s Control Ethics and Disciplinary Body meets. The same meeting will also decide what measures Celtic will face for events during their recent game against Hapoel Be’er Sheva, when fans of the Scottish club waved Palestinian banners.

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