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FA to investigate council member over ‘Hitler proud of Netanyahu’ post

The Football Association has launched an investigation into one of its own council members, who has been forced to apologise for saying that “Adolf Hitler would be proud of Benjamin Netanyahu”.

Wasim Haq, who joined the FA as a “BAME Football Communities Representative” in 2019, sparked fury after commenting on social media about Israel’s war with Hamas. Haq, who also holds positions with England Golf and the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), deleted the post and denied that he is antisemitic.

The FA initially said Haq had deleted the post and had apologised for causing offence after the post was brought to the governing body’s attention on Saturday afternoon. But there were soon calls from Lord Wolfson, who chairs the FA’s Football Regulatory Committee, for further action to be taken.

Haq, who previously held a role on the FA’s Inclusion Advisory Board, had posted on X: “Netanyahu has sacrificed his own people to maintain power … whilst #Palestinians are trying to maintain their sanity. Adolf Hitler would be proud of Benjamin Netanyahu.”

Lord Wolfson said: “Taking down the tweet and apologising is the minimum. That is necessary but it plainly can’t be a sufficient response. Using the language of nazism to attack Jewish or Israel is one of the examples of antisemitism by the IHRA [International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance], and the FA adopted the IHRA in January 2021. I’ve asked [the FA chair] Debbie Hewitt for a formal and urgent investigation. It is something to be treated with the utmost seriousness.”

The FA later confirmed an investigation would take place. A spokesperson described Haq’s post as “unacceptable” and “highly offensive”. The LTA and England Golf also disassociated themselves from the post and said they would be investigating Haq, who has expressed support for Palestine in recent days.

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After deleting the post, Haq said: “It has been brought to my attention that a tweet I published yesterday has caused offence. I have deleted the tweet and apologise unreservedly to anyone that has felt offended.”

The FA has faced criticism for its response following the attack by Hamas on Israel on 7 October. Leading Jewish groups were disappointed with the refusal to light the Wembley arch in the colours of the Israeli flag last month. A minute’s silence in memory of all victims of the conflict was held before England’s matches against Australia and Italy at Wembley.

The FA also caused anger following a perceived failure to condemn historic tweets on boycotting Israel by Deji Davies, the chair of the FA’s inclusion advisory board. Davies deleted the posts, which were sent in 2013.