German professional football club Mainz has released a player for publicly expressing opinions on social media that could be construed as support for Palestine in the context of the recent war between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas.
Mainz announced on Wednesday (local time) that it had terminated the contract of striker Anwar El Ghazi.
The move comes four days after the club lifted a suspension imposed on El Ghazi.
According to Germany’s dpa news agency, Elgazi was recently under investigation by local prosecutors for allegedly spreading hate speech.
“From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” El Ghazi wrote on social media on 15 March, a comment that could be interpreted as suggesting that Palestinian territory should extend beyond the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.
El-Ghazi is suspected of holding ideas that deny Israel’s existence in the area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, dpa reported.
El Ghazi quickly deleted the post and said he had done so “for the sake of peace for all,” but he was already suspended by the club on 17 March, banned from training and matches.
Mainz lifted the ban on 30 March, more than two weeks later, and said it would give El Ghazi a chance to explain.
However, Elgazi came under fire again on the 1st of this month when he posted on social media that there was no apology or change of opinion, and it is believed that Mainz finally gave up on him as investigative agencies became involved.
Elgazi is a Dutch player of Moroccan descent who has also played in the French and English leagues. He joined Mainz, the club of South Korean international Lee Jae-sung, in September.
“Stand up for what’s right, even if it means being alone,” Elgazi wrote on social media after being informed of his contract cancellation, “losing your livelihood is nothing compared to the hell that’s happening to innocent people in Gaza.”
Mainz have been in a bit of a mess lately, both on and off the pitch.
Head coach Bo Svensson, who brought in Lee Jae-Sung in 2021, resigned on 2 February, taking the blame for the club’s poor form.
Mainz have struggled mightily this season with three draws and six defeats in nine regular-season games, dropping them to 18th in the league. It is the first time the club has had to worry about relegation since being promoted to the top flight in the 2009-2010 season.
In addition to the league, they were also eliminated early from the DFB-Pokal, a cup competition. 파워볼사이트