German club Mainz terminates Anwar El Ghazi's contract over pro-Palestinian posts

German club Mainz terminates Anwar El Ghazi's contract over pro-Palestinian posts
3 min read
05 November, 2023
The German club ended its contract with El Ghazi after the Dutch footballer said Mainz' version of events - stating that he was remorseful for posting pro-Palestinian messages of support - were not true.
Germany has cracked down further on pro-Palestine activism amid Israel's war on Gaza [Getty]

German football club Mainz terminated the contract of Dutch forward Anwar El Ghazi on Friday following his social media posts in support of Gaza.

The announcement by Mainz came two days after El Ghazi disputed the club's version of events when it lifted an earlier suspension. German news agency DPA reported Friday that prosecutors in the city of Koblenz were also investigating.

Mainz originally suspended El Ghazi on 17 October, saying he had posted and then deleted a message about Israel's brutal bombardment of Gaza, which has killed almost 10,000 Palestinians, that the club deemed "unacceptable."

On Monday, the club said his suspension was lifted and that he would receive a reprimand. Mainz said that followed talks with the management and that El Ghazi "regrets publishing the post and also was remorseful about its negative impact." The club added that the player "also stated that he does not question Israel’s right to exist."

However, in a further social media post on Wednesday, El Ghazi indicated that the club had issued its statement without his permission.

"I do not regret or have any remorse for my position," the 28-year-old player wrote. "I do not distance myself from what I said and I stand, today and always until my last breath, for humanity and the oppressed."

El Ghazi, who previously played for PSV Eindhoven, Aston Villa and Everton, joined Mainz as a free agent in September. He made three appearances as a substitute for the team, which is last in the German league.

In response to Mainz saying that his contract was terminated Friday, El Ghazi posted: "The loss of my livelihood is nothing when compared to the hell being unleashed on the innocent and vulnerable in Gaza."

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Germany has cracked down on pro-Palestinian support since Israel began its bombing of Gaza, carrying out arrests and unequivocally backing Israel.

The Palestinian diaspora in the country has also voiced concerns over censorship, with some pro-Palestinian symbols being criminalised.

On Saturday, the sporting body in Morocco – where El Ghazi's parents are from – announced its solidarity with the Dutch footballer.

Many sports journalists and activists called on the country to "strongly" support the player and search for a contract “suitable for him from the top clubs in Morocco.”

Moroccan journalist Ahmed Hammouche, in a post on Facebook, expressed his solidarity with El Ghazi, saying: "We are honoured by his great stance."

Another activist said that the Dutch-Moroccan player could be a "great asset" to football leagues in the Gulf.