The Football Association and Lawn Tennis Association have opened investigations into a member of their top decision-making bodies after he said: “Adolf Hitler would be proud of Benjamin Netanyahu.”
Wasim Haq, who was appointed by the FA and LTA Councils to speak for diverse communities and inclusion, apologised for causing offence and deleted Saturday’s post on social media platform X (formerly Twitter) after the governing bodies were contacted about the comments on Israel’s war with Hamas.
Lord Wolfson KC, and chair of the FA’s Football Regulatory Authority, indicated to Sky News that the post would go against the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance code, which the FA adopted and warns against comparing contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
Writing on X, Mr Haq said of the Israeli prime minister on Saturday: “Netanyahu has sacrificed his own people to maintain power…whilst #Palestinians are trying to maintain their sanity. Adolf Hitler would be proud of Benjamin Netanyahu.”
More than three hours after he deleted the post, Mr Haq said on X: “It has been brought to my attention that a tweet I published yesterday has caused offence.
“I have deleted the tweet and apologise unreservedly to anyone that has felt offended.”
In response to criticism, Mr Haq posted on Sunday: “My tweet was directly in relation to comparing two individuals who in my eyes have caused contemporary and historical irreparable harm to victimised communities on both sides of this tragic conflict. I am not and never have been the kind of person that targets anyone or any community over any difference ever. I am NOT antisemitic and have never been accused of being so. I unreservedly apologise if this was taken in any other way.”
There was no immediate response from an attempt to contact Mr Haq, the FA Council Member representing Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities.
Sky Sports stopped referring to people hailing from diverse ethnic backgrounds as BAME back in 2020 due to a growing feeling that the term was outdated and inappropriate.
The FA and LTA are also exploring if action against Mr Haq is necessary.
The FA told Sky Sports News: “Wasim Haq has deleted the tweet and apologised for causing offence. We are aware of the content of the tweet – it is unacceptable, highly offensive, and we are investigating “
Since 2021, Mr Haq has been in a role at the governing body for British tennis as a council member appointed to drive inclusion and diversity.
The LTA told Sky News: “We are investigating this matter and for the avoidance of doubt the LTA disassociates itself from this tweet.”
The investigations were launched after calls by Lord Wolfson, who told Sky News that the matter should be “treated with the utmost seriousness.”
“Taking down the tweet and apologising is the minimum. That is necessary but it plainly can’t be a sufficient response.
“Using the language of Nazism to attack Jewish or Israel is one of the examples of antisemitism by the IHRA [International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance], and the FA adopted the IHRA in January 2021.
“I’ve asked [FA chair] Debbie Hewitt for a formal and urgent investigation.”
The FA’s response to the war was criticised by Jewish and Israeli groups following its decision against lighting up the Wembley arch in the colours of the Israeli flag after the Hamas massacres on October 7.