The German football club Mainz announced Monday that it had issued a warning to its player Anwar El Ghazi for a position deemed “unacceptable” on the Israel-Hamas conflict, while announcing his upcoming return to the team. The Dutch international winger was suspended on October 17 following a message on social networks concerning the war between Israel and Hamas, “not corresponding to the values of the club”, according to the latter.
The player had shared messages after the outbreak of the conflict containing the phrase "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free", a slogan seen by some as a call for the destruction of Israel, by others as a call for a equal rights between Palestinians and Israelis. “El Ghazi has since distanced himself from his message published on his Instagram account, which he himself deleted a few minutes later, during several interviews” with management, the Bundesliga club said in a press release.
“He regretted the publication of the message and its negative impact” in particular for the entire club in western Germany. “El Ghazi clearly distanced himself from terrorist acts like that of Hamas, which led to a new escalation of violence in the Middle East,” emphasizing his compassion for all the victims of this conflict, Mainz adds. “He credibly explained that he also did not question Israel's right to exist,” the club said.
Management immediately decided to give him “a chance to rehabilitate himself”, and he will be able to resume “training and matches soon”. More than 1,400 people have been killed in Israel since the start of the war, most of the civilians killed on October 7, the day of the unprecedented Hamas attack, according to local authorities. The strikes carried out by Israel in retaliation on the Gaza Strip, led by Hamas, killed some 8,300 people, mostly civilians, including hundreds of children, according to the Palestinian movement.