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Wembley arch will no longer light up to mark atrocities or LGTBQ+ campaigns after criticism over lack of Israel display
22 November 2023, 22:22
The Wembley Stadium arch will no longer light up in honour of countries who have suffered atrocities or to promote diversity campaigns.
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It follows a backlash against the Football Association (FA) over its decision not to display the Israel flag following Hamas' terror attacks on October 7.
The arch will now only be lit in colours that directly link to its use as a sports and entertainment venue.
It had previously been used to display solidarity with countries who had suffered terror attacks, such as France in 2015, as well as Ukraine following Russia's illegal invasion.
The change in policy means diversity campaigns will no longer feature on the arch, including the LGBTQ+ rainbow flag, Sky reports.
The FA had been described as "spineless" for not displaying the Israel flag ahead of England's international friendly against Australia back in October, which took place five days after Hamas' attack on Israel.
Instead, players from both sides wore black armbands during the friendly, with flags and kits from non-competing nations - including Israel - banned.
There was also a period of silence held before kick-off.
At the time, the Board of Deputies of British Jews labelled the FA's response as "weak".
"When hundreds of innocent Israelis were murdered, raped and kidnapped in a coordinated terrorist campaign, unequalled since 9/11, the FA's response is 'to remember the victims of the conflicts in Israel and Palestine' and the Wembley arches will not be illuminated in blue and white," it said.
"This weak response brings no credit to the FA."
The decision not to display the Israel flag led to the resignation of the FA's Faith in Football network Chairman, Rabbi Alex Goldberg.
FA Chief Executive Mark Bullingham said: "I recognise that our decision caused hurt to the Jewish community who felt that we should have lit the arch and that we should have shown stronger support for them.
"This was one of the hardest decisions we've had to make, and the last thing we ever wanted to do in this situation was to add to the hurt.
"We aren't asking for everyone to agree with our decision, but to understand how we reached it."
The new policy will remove the need for FA officials to assess the nature of complex geopolitical situations, a major factor behind the change.