Jewish leader calls for Arsenal player to be suspended for pro-Palestine post as sponsor seeks ‘urgent talks’ with football bosses

Egypt midfielder Mohamed Elneny is at the center of a row over a post to his huge following voicing his "heart", "soul" and "support" for Palestine, causing an outraged Jewish chief to urge sponsors and the English FA to act.

Experienced international ElNeny posted a photo of a man holding a Palestinian flag in front of a crowd in a show of his feelings on the current conflict between Palestine and Israel.

The 28-year-old backed up the post, which is said to have included an image called ‘Palestine Lives Matter’ featuring an outline of Israel filled with pro-Palestine images, by telling his Instagram following of almost five million: “My heart, my soul, my support for you, Palestine.”

That led to Tal Ofer, of the UK Board of Deputies, to reach out to club backers including Lavazza Group, who said: “We’ll immediately reach out to Arsenal to remark that we are concerned about the club being associated with such a message.

“The content of this post is totally not aligned with our company values. Lavazza Group is fully committed against racism and anti-semitism.”

In a statement, Arsenal told the Jewish Chronicle (JC) that ElNeny was “entitled to express views”, although the Premier League also-rans added that they would be “speaking to Mo” about the post so that he “understands the wider implications”.

As a club, we are committed to confronting and eliminating all forms of discrimination and continue to champion the need for equality and diversity across all areas of life," they insisted.

Ofer and the JC both said they had also contacted key club sponsor Adidas. "I am also sad that Arsenal did not want to deal with this more seriously," he rued. "I would expect better from them than this.”

The self-described "progressive in politics and music" and Gunners fan was also said to have told the English Football Association to suspend ElNeny for the post, reportedly adding on a locked account: "No ifs, no buts”.

There was a mixed public reaction on social media to the post, which attracted almost 165,000 likes in around four days.

"If one of the club’s sponsors have a problem with ElNeny sending his support to Palestine, bin them, not ElNeny," argued one, while another said: "All these players need to understand that they become stars because of their fans and these fans are from different religions.

"These so-called stars has got a moral responsibility to stay neutral in situations like these instead of hurting some people's feelings."

ElNeny has made 40 appearances for his club this season, including the full game as they earned a surprise 1-0 win at Chelsea in the Premier League on Wednesday.

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