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LTA sacks councillor over ‘Hitler proud of Netanyahu’ social media post

The Lawn Tennis Association has sacked an independent councillor with immediate effect for saying “Adolf Hitler would be proud of Benjamin Netanyahu”.

Tennis’s governing body in the UK confirmed that Wasim Haq, who was appointed in 2021 to bring a range of diverse experiences to the LTA council, would be fired following social media comments about Israel’s war with Hamas.

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

“The LTA board considered this matter today and agreed that the tweet posted by Wasim Haq on 11 November was unacceptable and in no way reflects the LTA’s position or values,” it said in a statement. “Therefore the board has agreed that Wasim Haq will be removed from his role as an independent councillor with immediate effect.”

Haq has since deleted his tweet, which said: “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”. He also denied that he is antisemitic.

However he remains under investigation from the Football Association, who he joined in 2019 as a “BAME Football Communities Representative”, as well as England Golf, where he held a similar role.

Haq’s position on the FA Council is understood to be in serious doubt, with football’s governing body calling his tweet “unacceptable” and “highly offensive”. Lord Wolfson, who chairs the FA’s Football Regulatory Committee, has also called for further action to be taken.

“Taking down the tweet and apologising is the minimum,” Wolfson said. “That is necessary but it plainly can’t be a sufficient response. Using the language of Nazism to attack Jews 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.”

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

Kick It Out has urged everyone in football to be cautious when using social media to comment on events in the Middle East. “Emotions are heightened and words can have unintended impacts causing hurt, anger, fear and deep distress,” it said.

“Those who have positions of leadership and influence have a greater responsibility to be careful with their words. We want everyone, of all faiths and none, to feel welcome in our game.”