German football club Mainz said Monday it had reprimanded Anwar El Ghazi for comments made on the Israel-Hamas war but opened the way for the winger’s return to first-team football.
El Ghazi was suspended on October 17 for taking a “position on the conflict in the Middle East in a manner that wasn’t tolerable for the club”, Mainz said in a statement.
The Dutch international had shared several posts on social media following the beginning of the conflict earlier this month, including the phrase “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”.
The slogan is seen by some as a call for the destruction of Israel, while others say it appeals for equality for Palestinians and Israelis.
In talks with Mainz’s management, the winger had “distanced himself from his post on his Instagram account, which he deleted minutes later”, Mainz said.
El Ghazi had “explicitly distanced himself” from Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel and “expressed his condolences to the victims of the attack and to all the victims of the ongoing conflict”, the club added.
The player “does not question Israel’s right to exist”, it said.
El Ghazi’s “commitment to upholding the club’s values” meant he would return to training and be in contention for the matchday squad “soon”, Mainz said.
Hamas gunmen stormed across the border from Gaza into Israel on October 7 and carried out the deadliest attack since the country was created in 1948.
In retaliation, Israel announced it would destroy Hamas and began a relentless bombardment of the Gaza Strip.
Israeli forces have recently stepped up their ground offensive in Gaza as part of the military response to Hamas’s attack that officials say killed 1,400 people, mostly civilians, with another 239 people taken hostage.
The health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza says at least 8,306 people, mainly civilians, have since been killed in Israeli air and ground strikes.
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