FA suspends official Wasim Haq for anti-Netanyahu tweet

Minorities representative had apologised for his post but added that both Hitler and Mr Netanyhau have caused 'irreparable harm'

Wasim Haq said he is not anti-Semitic and has never been accused of being so. Photo: England Golf
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The FA has suspended an official, who had already been removed from a role in tennis, for tweeting a message comparing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with Adolf Hitler.

Wasim Haq, who still has a role in golf, was facing calls for his removal from all three positions after posting the original comment on Saturday.

“The investigation into Wasim Haq's conduct is under way and he has been suspended from his Council duties pending the outcome of the process,” the FA said on Tuesday.

The Lawn Tennis Association removed Mr Haq as a council member on Monday and the FA is now investigating the official, who was made a BAME minorities football communities' representative in 2019.

“England Golf entirely disassociates ourselves from the post and will be investigating the matter,” a representative said.

Mr Haq has apologised for his initial post but tried to explain his comment by saying that both Hitler and Mr Netanyahu have caused “irreparable harm to victimised communities”.

Lord Wolfson, chairman of the FA’s Football Regulatory Authority said Mr Haq's post met the definition of anti-Semitism set by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance intergovernmental organisation.

“I’m very concerned that a member of the FA Council … posted in these terms,” said Lord Wolfson.

“The original charge: comparing Netanyahu to Hitler is a clear breach of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, which the FA adopted in Jan 2021. So, this ‘apology’ … makes the same comparison, again,” he said

The FA and antiracism campaigners have criticised the post.

“Wasim Haq has deleted the tweet and apologised for causing offence,” the FA said.

“We are aware of the content of the tweet – it is unacceptable, highly offensive, and we are investigating.”

The anti-discrimination watchdog, Kick It Out also said the tweet fell within the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism.

“As events in the Middle East continue, we reiterate our message urging all football participants to be particularly cautious when using social media. Emotions are heightened and words can have unintended impacts causing hurt, anger, fear and deep distress,” said Kick It Out.

“Those who have positions of leadership and influence have a greater responsibility to be careful with their words.

“We want everyone, of all faiths and none, to feel welcome in our game.”

Mr Haq wrote in a now-deleted post on X: “Netanyahu has sacrificed his own people to maintain power … while #Palestinians are trying to maintain their sanity. Adolf Hitler would be proud of Benjamin Netanyahu.”

The message was deleted quickly but discovered by the anti-Semitism campaign group GnasherJew.

It tweeted: “We’d urge @fa @englandgolf @the_LTA to remove him from his posts ASAP. He’s a disgrace.”

After a quick investigation, the LTA removed Mr Haq despite an apology.

Mr Haq said: “It has been brought to my attention that a tweet I published yesterday has caused offence. I have deleted the tweet and apologise unreservedly to anyone that has felt offended.”

He later added: “My tweet was directly in relation to comparing two individuals who in my eyes have caused contemporary and historical irreparable harm to victimised communities on both sides of this tragic conflict.

“I am not and never have been the kind of person that targets anyone or any community over any difference ever. I am NOT anti-Semitic and have never been accused of being so.

“I unreservedly apologise if this was taken in any other way. Anyone who knows me will know that I stand to be counted on behalf of every community that is being marginalised in any way whatsoever and will continue to do so for the rest of my life.

“To all those that are offended, I deeply apologise – and I continue to pray for an end to the needless loss of any life during this tragic conflict.”

Mr Haq was appointed to the LTA Council in March 21 to help promote diversity and inclusion within the sport.

An LTA statement said: “The LTA board considered this matter today and agreed that the tweet posted by Wasim Haq on 11 November was unacceptable and in no way reflects the LTA’s position or values.

“Therefore the board have agreed that Wasim Haq will be removed from his role as an independent councillor with immediate effect.”

Updated: November 14, 2023, 12:09 PM