Martin Glenn
FA chief executive Martin Glenn said he would personally apologise to the Jewish Leadership Council and Kick It Out NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images


  • Glenn mentioned them in the same sentence when discussing political and religious symbols in football.
  • His comments were subsequently labelled as "offensive and inappropriate" by the Jewish Leadership Council.
  • Glenn: "I will be speaking with the Jewish Leadership Council and to Kick It Out to personally apologise".

Football Association (FA) chief executive Martin Glenn has apologised for controversial comments regarding the Star of David that were heavily criticised and dubbed as "offensive and inappropriate" by the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC).

While discussing Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola's wearing of a yellow ribbon in support of imprisoned Catalan politicians despite an official FA charge following a meeting of the International Football Association Board (IFAB) in Zurich over the weekend, Glenn mentioned the Star of David in the same sentence as the swastika and former Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe when reiterating that his organisation did not want divisive political and strong religious symbols displayed on football equipment.

The four football associations of the home nations successfully lobbied for the rewording of Ifab's rule on political symbols last year to allow poppies to be worn on shirts.

"We have rewritten Law 4 of the game so that things like a poppy are OK but things that are going to be highly divisive are not," Glenn said, per The Guardian.

"That could be strong religious symbols, it could be the Star of David, it could the hammer and sickle, it could be a swastika, anything like Robert Mugabe on your shirt – these are the things we don't want.

"To be honest, and to be very clear, Pep Guardiola's yellow ribbon is a political symbol, it's a symbol of Catalan independence and I can tell you there are many more Spaniards, non‑Catalans, who are p****d off by it. All we are doing is even-handedly applying the laws of the game.

"Poppies are not political symbols; that yellow ribbon is. Where do you draw the line, should we have someone with a Ukip badge? Someone with an Isis badge? That's why you have to be pretty tough that local, regional, national party organisations cannot use football shirts to represent them."

JLC chief executive Simon Johnson, former director of corporate affairs at the FA, COO of England's 2018 World Cup bid and senior lawyer at the Premier League, said the remarks were "ill judged and in poor taste" and said they would "raise formally with the FA the Jewish community's deep disappointment with this statement".

Glenn apologised on Monday morning [5 March] for any offence caused and stated that he would communicate directly with the JLC and Kick It Out, football's equality and inclusion organisation.

"I would like to apologise 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," he said, as relayed by Sky News.

"I will be speaking with the Jewish Leadership Council and to Kick It Out to personally apologise."

Guardiola, meanwhile, has until 18.00 GMT on Monday evening to respond to the FA's charge of breaching their kit and advertising regulations that came after two warnings administered in December.

Pep Guardiola
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