The Football Association has taken action against a council member for making a statement about Benjamin Netanyahu that referenced Adolf Hitler. Wasim Haq, a BAME Football Communities Representative since 2019, was under investigation after sharing a social media post regarding Israel’s conflict with Hamas, which resulted in accusations of antisemitism.
There was mounting pressure for consequences to be faced by Haq, who has denied accusations of being antisemitic, following his dismissal as an independent council member for the Lawn Tennis Association on Monday. On Tuesday, the FA announced that he has been temporarily suspended while an investigation takes place. England Golf, where Haq holds a similar position to the one at the FA, is also conducting an investigation.
A representative stated: “The inquiry into Wasim Haq’s behavior is currently in progress and he has been temporarily relieved of his responsibilities as a council member until the conclusion of the investigation.”
The Football Association (FA) initially stated that Haq had removed the post and expressed regret for causing offense in response to initial inquiries. However, Lord Wolfson, who leads the FA’s Football Regulatory Committee, urged the English football governing body to take a firmer stance. The FA began an investigation and on Sunday night, deemed the post as “unacceptable” and “extremely offensive”.
Haq, who previously served on the FA’s Inclusion Advisory Board, recently wrote on X: “Netanyahu has put his own people at risk in order to stay in control, while #Palestinians struggle to maintain their mental well-being. Benjamin Netanyahu’s actions would make Adolf Hitler proud.”
After removing the post, Haq stated: “I have been made aware that a tweet I posted was offensive. I have deleted the tweet and offer my sincere apologies to anyone who was offended.”
Haq added: “My tweet was directly in relation to comparing two individuals who in my eyes have caused contemporary and historical irreparable harm to victimised communities on both sides of this tragic conflict.
I am not and have never been someone who discriminates against individuals or communities based on any kind of difference. I am NOT prejudiced against Jewish people and have never been accused of such. I wholeheartedly apologize if my actions were interpreted differently.
Wolfson proposed that Haq’s apology may have violated FA regulations as well. “The initial allegation of likening Netanyahu to Hitler is a direct violation of the IHRA’s definition of antisemitism, which was adopted by @FA in January 2021,” he shared. “Therefore, this ‘apology’…repeats the same comparison.”
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.
Leaders and influential individuals have a heightened obligation to be mindful of their language. Our goal is for everyone, regardless of their beliefs, to feel included in our community.