The Football Association’s decision not to light the Wembley arch in honour of those who died in the Hamas attacks on Israel has been branded “antisemitic” by a Conservative former minister.
Sir Michael Ellis said the FA “seem to regret every death and injustice, apart from the death of Jews”.
Last month, the FA faced criticism when it chose not to light the arch in the colours of the Israeli flag after the attacks on its citizens by Hamas militants on October 7.
Sport and entertainment
Following this, chief executive Mark Bullingham said his organisation would review its approach to lighting the arch.
The PA news agency understands it is now unlikely to be lit in future except for matters directly related to Wembley’s purpose as a sport and entertainment venue.
But it could still be lit in other exceptional circumstances, such as the death of the monarch or an England footballer.
Sir Michael (Northampton North) said: “The FA board who for years lit up Wembley for numerous causes and campaigns have today now said they will not light up Wembley ever again for any non-entertainment reason.
“This is because they’ve been shamed by their antisemitic decision not to light up the stadium when 1,400 Jews were murdered in the pogrom on October 7.
“Should the National Lottery even fund organisations that seem to regret every death and injustice, apart from the death of Jews?”
In response, Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt said: “The Culture Secretary (Lucy Frazer) discussed the lighting of the arch with the Football Association at the time and expressed her disappointment about how they approached that situation.
“As announced in the autumn statement we are making further funds available to combat the rise in antisemitism and also we are repeating the £3 million uplift to the Community Security Trust in order to fund and ensure that the work, the critical work that they do, is able to continue and meet the unfortunate demand.
“My honourable friend makes a very good point, we can all, whatever businesses, whatever organisation we are involved in, we can all make a difference to calling things out, but also critically showing support to particular communities.”
Inclusion and diversity
It is understood the FA will no longer light the arch in relation to inclusion and diversity matters, such as being lit up in rainbow colours to support the LGBTQ+ community.
However, the FA still intends to use the power of the sport to support a range of campaigns and causes in other, meaningful ways.
Last month, Mr 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.”