The British government issued a rare rebuke on Thursday to the Football Association (FA) for its decision not to light up Wembley Stadium’s arch in blue and white in solidarity with Israel following last week’s attacks by Palestinian militant group Hamas.
Wembley, the home of England’s national football team, has previously lit up its iconic arch with the colours of Ukraine, Turkey and other countries in solidarity. However, it will not do the same for Israel, media reports said.
“I am extremely disappointed ... and have made my views clear to the FA,” Britain’s Secretary for Culture, Media and Sport Lucy Frazer said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.
“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,” she added.
The government this week, projected the Israeli flag onto Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Downing Street residence, while parliament lit itself up in blue and white, echoing similar displays of solidarity in other parts of the Western world.
The FA released a statement earlier on Thursday, saying flags and shirts showing support for victims of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will not be allowed for England’s upcoming games against Australia and Italy at Wembley.
England and Australia players will wear black armbands for their friendly on Friday, the FA said, and there will be a period of silence before kick-off.
“On Friday evening, we will remember the innocent victims of the devastating events in Israel and Palestine,” the FA said in the statement, without mentioning Wembley’s arch.
“We will only permit flags, replica kits and other representations of nationality for the competing nations inside Wembley Stadium.”
England hosts Italy in a European Championship qualifier on Tuesday.
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