An agreement was made between Maccabi Haifa and Al Ain Football Club in the United Arab Emirates to transfer Omer Atzili for two million dollars, Al Ain announced last Friday.
نادي العين يعلن عن توصله إلى اتفاق مبدئي مع نادي مكابي حيفا لانتقال اللاعب عمير اتزيلي إلى صفوف "الزعيم" #نادي_العين pic.twitter.com/bst01qGTdI— نادي العين (@alainfcae) June 9, 2023
The midfielder will become the first Jew to play in a league in an Arab country, and the news did not draw positive reactions as messages of abuse flooded the responses to the announcement on Twitter.
"I have been a fan of this club since childhood, but now I declare my hatred for it," wrote one fan. "Why are we doing this to ourselves? We are an Arab people. Long live Palestine!"
Other fans also said they would be canceling their subscriptions to the club.
Another who was also canceling his subscription said that "it is true that I may be unimpactful and my decision may not cause an advancement or delay, but by God, I was a fan of Al Ain, but now I am retiring from supporting this club and canceling my subscription just for putting the logo of the club that bears the Masonic star, and if there is diplomacy between countries, a club like Al Ain should not prioritize such dealings"
Atzili still received support from some fans with one saying that the "Deal looks [fire emoji]" and another providing a more in-depth analysis saying: "Good move, A player with high potential and will make the right side an effective and strong side, and this was what the leadership was lacking. A skilled and powerful player who shoots during the game and specializes in set shots. A quality first step, and we await the rest of the steps for the return of the UAE leader."
Possible political motive
Al Mayadeen, a Lebanese channel affiliated with Hezbollah, published an article that dealt with the signing of Atzili from a political point of view, claiming that "this is a new and unusual step that reinforces the distorted normalization of the Israeli occupation of Palestine."
Twitter users were also suspicious of the diplomatic nature of the transfer believing it to be motivated by the normalization with Israel.
These claims stem from the fact that the club itself is owned and managed by the ruling family of Abu Dhabi. The club's president is Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan who is also the current President of the UAE, while its vice-president and Chairman of the Board of Directors is the sheikh's younger brother Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.