England soccer chief apologizes for Star of David-swastika snafu

Glenn was attempting to explain the difference between politically acceptable and unacceptable symbols that players or coaches could wear on top of their uniforms.

England's Football Association chief executive Martin Glenn (photo credit: REUTERS)
England's Football Association chief executive Martin Glenn
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Martin Glenn, the chief executive of England’s Football Association, has apologized after causing an uproar by likening the Star of David to a swastika.
Glenn made the comments following a meeting of the IFAB, soccer’s global law-making body, in Zurich when he was questioned regarding his organization’s decision to charge Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola for wearing a yellow ribbon in support of Catalan independence.
Spaniard Guardiola has until Monday to respond to the ruling body’s charge that he displayed a political message.
“You can’t have and we don’t want football equipment to display political symbols. That has always been the case,” Glenn told British media before referring to the recent controversy over British players wearing poppies on their kit.
“The problem we had with poppies is that for some reason a new person at FIFA seemed to think poppies were a political symbol and we fought hard against that notion and thankfully sense broke out,” Glenn said.
“Things like a poppy are OK but things that are going to be highly divisive are not. And that could be strong religious symbols, it could be the Star of David, it could be the hammer and sickle, it could be a swastika, anything like Robert Mugabe on your shirt, these are the things we don’t want,” he added.
“And to be honest and to be very clear, Pep Guardiola’s yellow ribbon is a political stance, it’s a symbol of Catalan independence.”
Glenn said the FA was “even-handedly” trying to apply the laws of the game.
“Where do you draw the line? Should we have someone with a UKIP badge, someone with an ISIS badge?” he noted.
After his comments created a stir, Glenn apologized and pledged to contact the Jewish Leadership Council and Kick It Out directly.
“I would like to apologize for any offence caused by the examples I gave when referring to political and religious symbols in football, specifically in reference to the Star of David, which is a hugely important symbol to Jewish people all over the world.
“I will be speaking with the Jewish Leadership Council and to Kick It Out to personally apologize.”
Simon Johnson, the chief executive of the JLC, confirmed Glenn had apologized and that they plan to meet.
“I spoke to Martin Glenn today. I explained why his comments yesterday caused such serious offence. Martin apologized, explained the context for his comments and stated that he did not intend to cause offence, which I accepted.
“We have agreed to meet soon along with the CST. I have thanked the FA for their apology and I am glad that this has been dealt with swiftly.”
Reuters contributed to this report.