Ghana Football Association Apologizes for "Offensive Israeli Flag" at World Cup Match
A News Review by Dr. Mike Cohen, The Galilee Institute (http://www.gogalil.com)
To see the photos of Hapoel Tel Aviv soccer star John Paintsil waving an Israeli flag after Ghana defeated the Czech Republic at the World Cup in Germany please visit http://www.gogalil.com
JERUSALEM: Monday, June 19, 2006
Israeli and Arab press this weekend carried huge photos of Ghana soccer star John Paintsil celebrating as his team defeated the Czech Republic 2-0 at the World Cup in Germany. Paintsil, who plays for the Israeli Hapoel Tel Aviv soccer team, was photographed taking out a small Israeli flag from his sock and waving it above his head after his team scored each of their goals - by Asamoah Gyan in the second minute and Sulley Muntari in the 82nd.
After celebrating each goal, the 25-year-old put the flag back in his sock. Ghana Football Association spokesman Randy Abbey apologised today for the "naive" reaction of Paintsil and said that it was not done "out of malice" for the Palestinian people, while the World Soccer Feeration, FIFA, said that it sees no problem with the incident.
The comments came after numerous complaints were made to Ghana's Football Association calling the "act" "an insult to the just cause of the Palestine political issue." The Ghana's Football Association promptly issued an official apology on Monday for the "naive and offensive, unfortunate and ignorant" display of Paintsil.
Abbey told reporters that "it was an action out of naivete, and we apologize to anyone who was offended. It will never happen again," He admitted that there had been complaints to Ghana Footbal but did not elaborate. "Paintsil was obviously unaware of the implications of what he did ... He's extremely popular in Israel, and he wanted to thank the fans who traveled to see him play."
"We're not here for politics," he added. "We don't support Israel or Arab nations ... It was unfortunate that the player was ignorant about the political situation but he has apologized to us and I think the matter should end there."
In Israel, Israeli Sports Minister Ophir Pines-Paz warmly praised the player: "We have an Israeli at the World Cup. Paintsil's gesture has warmed our hearts and many Israelis have now become supporters of Ghana," but the move drew furious reactions in the Arab press ranging from anger to puzzlement. Some Arab reporters are sure that Pantsil was paid to do it -- others are more paranoid -- and have reported that Pantsil is a Mossad agent. One Arab sports commentator went as far as to state as fact that "Pantsil was indoctrinated at a football camp run by Israelis who abuse the poverty of the continent's children with the ultimate goal of selling players off to European clubs for financial gain."
"They start their day by saluting the Israeli flag," he reported.
Interesting Links Regarding This Story (From Pyong-Yang to Shanhai!):
Official Ghana Footbal Site: http://ghanafa.org/gfasite/news/read.php?contentid\u003d1919&catid\u003d1&subid\u003d1
Top Story: http://ghanafa.org/gfasite/
Official Ghana Footbal Site: http://ghanafa.org/gfasite/news/read.php?contentid=1919&catid=1&subid=1