FA's refusal to light Wembley with Israel colours 'mind-blowing,' Lord Mann tells LBC

13 October 2023, 08:38 | Updated: 13 October 2023, 08:41

Lord John Mann on the FA's Wembley Arch decision

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Lord Mann says it is 'mind-blowing' that the FA will not light the Wembley arch in Israeli colours following the weekend's shocking attack on Gaza by Hamas.

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Lord Mann has described the Football Association's decision not to show the Jewish prayer colours on the Wembley arch as "mind-blowing" after the body decided not to light the landmark with the colours of the Israel flag before tonight's friendly between England and Australia.

Speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast, the peer, who previously chaired the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism, said: "I made it easy for them - I said, 'why don't you put up the Jewish prayer colours which have been there for thousands of years.

"The Wembley Arch is seen by the Jewish community in north London more than any other icon, and the fact they couldn't do that for an hour or two last night just to give that message of hope and comfort, I find depressing.

"I find it quite mind-blowing.

"Instead they're having a minute's silence on a Friday evening when not a single Jewish person will be present."

Yesterday, Nick branded the FA "spineless idiots" for refusing to light the arch in Israeli colours following the horrific attacks of last weekend.

Read more: The FA are 'spineless idiots' for not lighting up Wembley Arch in the Israeli colours, says Nick Ferrari

Read more: 'Spineless' FA slammed for refusing to display Israeli flag on Wembley arch after 'depraved' Hamas attacks

Ahead of Friday's friendly between England and Australia at Wembley, the FA announced players would wear black armbands and that a period of silence would be observed instead to remember the victims of the conflict.

The arch of Wembley Stadium was lit up with the colours of the Ukraine flag, in London, Friday, Feb. 25, 2022 after the Russian invasion.
The arch of Wembley Stadium was lit up with the colours of the Ukraine flag, in London, Friday, Feb. 25, 2022 after the Russian invasion. Picture: Alamy

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer has also hit out at the FA for the "extremely disappointing" decision not to light up the Wembley arch in the colours of the Israeli flag before Friday's friendly between England and Australia.

Following attacks by Hamas militants on the country's territory last weekend, the British Government had written to UK sports bodies encouraging them to mark events in Israel appropriately.

The Hamas attacks have led to the Israeli government responding with airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, with a ground invasion also reported to be a possibility.

The FA also confirmed flags, replica kits and other representations of nationality beyond those related to England or Australia would not be allowed inside Wembley on Friday.

Lucy Frazer said she was left "extremely disappointed" by the decision not to light up the Wembley arch in colours of the Israeli flag. The arch had previously been was lit in yellow and blue in an expression of solidarity with Ukraine following Russia's invasion.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews also criticised the FA statement - pointing out that it made "no mention of the mass terrorist murders of hundreds of innocent Israelis last Saturday".

The Culture Secretary criticised the FA's stance in a post on social media on Thursday evening.

"I am extremely disappointed by the FA's decision not to light up the Wembley Stadium arch following last weekend's horrific terrorist attacks in Israel, and have made my views clear to the FA," Frazer wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

"It is especially disappointing in light of the FA's bold stance on other terrorist attacks in the recent past. Words and actions matter. The Government is clear: we stand with Israel."

The iconic Wembley Arch has been lit up many times in the past
The iconic Wembley Arch has been lit up many times in the past. Picture: Alamy

England manager Southgate was asked for his thoughts on the FA's stance at Thursday's pre-match press conference ahead of the Australia game, and accepted it was "one of the most complex situations in the world".

Southgate said: "Firstly (there have been) incredibly harrowing pictures. (Our) thoughts and feelings are to everybody who has suffered, who have lost relatives and friends in these attacks. It is incredibly disturbing to see.

"On a broader scale, in my lifetime it is one of the most complex situations in the world and I think everybody is grappling with how best to deal with that.

"I don't know what it is like to walk in the shoes of people on either side of that conflict. What I do know is people at the FA will have consulted with everybody they possibly can and will have tried to make the best decision with good intentions.

"Clearly whatever decision they came to would have been criticised in one way or another, so I also recognise how difficult it was for them. I wasn't involved in those discussions, (but) they went on for a long time I know.

"They (FA) have decided to take the stance they have and we will get on with that."

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Teams in the EFL and Premier League will pay tribute to the victims of the conflict in their next rounds of matches.

There will also be a period of silence ahead of kick-off at the weekend's matches in the Women's Super League, Women's Championship and Women's National League to "remember the innocent victims of the devastating events in Israel and Palestine."

The England and Wales Cricket Board released a statement on Thursday which read: "We deplore the appalling loss of innocent life following recent events in Israel and Palestine.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of all the innocent victims, and those who are still missing, as well as the communities who are affected.

"While sport seems trivial compared to the harrowing scenes we have all watched, it is also an opportunity for people to come together and remind ourselves that there's far more that brings us together, than divides us. We should now all unify in our hope for peace."

England cricketer Moeen Ali has deleted an Instagram post featuring the Palestinian flag and a quote from Malcolm X.

Moeen then put up a new post, without the flag but containing the same Malcolm X quote: "If you're not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing."

The International Olympic Committee said its executive board members had "expressed their very strong feelings over these tragic events in the recent days" at the start of Thursday's meeting in Mumbai and "express their deepest sympathy with the innocent victims of this terrible violence".

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