While some players face fines and disciplinary actions, others’ political statements go without significant consequences, raising questions about the consistency of governing bodies in addressing political expressions in sport.
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has levied a fine of $1,500 against Jordanian national team player Mahmoud Mardi after he displayed a pro-Palestine slogan during a match against Malaysia in the Asian Cup’s group stage.
After Mardi scored Jordan’s third goal, his second of the game in the 32nd minute, he lifted his shirt to reveal the slogan “The cause of the honourable”. in reference to the Palestinian cause.
The Jordanian Football Association (JFA) acknowledged the fine, confirming that the penalty was purely financial.
Jordan’s performance in the match was stellar, dominating Malaysia with a 4-0 victory and securing three crucial points in the group stage.
The Palestinian death toll from the Israel’s ongoing aggression on Gaza has reached 24,762, with 62,108 injured since October 7 last year.
Such shows of solidarity are not isolated in the world of football, where players often use their platform to express political and social views.
Since October 7, 2023, there have been notable instances of footballers facing consequences for expressing pro-Palestine sentiments.
Algerian international Youcef Atal, who plays for French Ligue 1 club Nice, was suspended after sharing a social media post in support of Gaza. The post, which was quickly deleted, led to an apology from Atal, but Nice took immediate disciplinary action against him.
Similarly, Anwar El Ghazi, playing for Bundesliga club Mainz, was suspended for a pro-Palestinian post.
Although he was not being investigated, Mainz distanced itself from the content of his post.
There have been several instances where footballers and sports teams expressed support for Israel without facing significant repercussions.
For example, Israeli international Eran Zahavi, a player for PSV Eindhoven, responded to a pro-Palestine gesture by Manchester United players Paul Pogba and Amad by editing a picture to include the Israel flag.
Fellow Israeli striker Tomer Hemed, who plays for New Zealand’s Wellington Phoenix, faced pressure but no formal punishment after celebrating goals by wrapping himself in an Israeli flag and placing a yarmulke on his head during a game.