FA ‘recognises hurt’ over decision not to light Wembley arch in Israel colours | The FA

The FA

  • Chief executive explains contentious reaction to Hamas attacks
  • Mark Bullingham says FA will review policy on lighting the arch

Mark Bullingham said he “recognises the hurt” caused to the Jewish community by the Football Association’s decision not to light the Wembley arch in the colours of Israel following the atrocities committed there by Hamas two weeks ago and called the decision “one of the hardest” he has had to make as the organisation’s chief executive.

The FA came under intense scrutiny and received strong criticism over their response to the events of 7 October, ultimately choosing to acknowledge the moment with black armbands and a minute’s silence before England men’s friendly against Australia last Friday. Bullingham said the organisation will now review its policy on lighting the arch.

“I recognise that our decision caused hurt in the Jewish community who felt that we should have lit the arch and should have shown stronger support for them,” Bullingham said. “This is one of the hardest decisions we have 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.”

Bullingham said that the decision had been made after days of deliberation, with the FA first contacting the Israeli Football Association to express their horror at the Hamas attacks. This was followed by a period of consultation across football and an extraordinary meeting of the FA board on the following Wednesday night.

“We all felt then and we all feel now that football should stand for peace and humanity and that we should show compassion for all innocent victims of this terrible conflict,” Bullingham said. “Our compassion and sympathy is clearly for families and children in particular. That was a consistent view, across the board, the Premier League, the EFL [English Football League], the National League and the Women’s Super League, Women’s Championship and also across the FSA [Football Supporters’ Association] who represent the fans in this.”

Bullingham, who was reading a prepared statement at the Leaders sports business event in London, defended the FA, saying it had been put under greater scrutiny than other comparable institutions. “It would be easy for football to ask why we were the only sport being talked about in this way, particularly when rugby and cricket are both in their World Cups,” he said. “But also it would be easy to ask why Wembley seemed to be the only building in the country being discussed when we have so many landmarks across our nations.

“However, we understand that the power of football means we will always be in the spotlight and that’s just something we have to accept. Finally this week has made us question whether we should light the arch and when and we will be reviewing that in the coming weeks.”

The Post FA ‘recognises hurt’ over decision not to light Wembley arch in Israel colours | The FA Originally Posted on amp.theguardian.com

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