MENA Sports Wrap: Salah, Benzema, Ziyech support Gaza

MENA Sports Wrap: Salah, Benzema, Ziyech support Gaza
Some of football's biggest names have used their huge public profiles to support the people of Palestine and urge the world to stop the massacres in Gaza.
3 min read
20 October, 2023
Footballers across the world have expressed solidarity with Gaza

Football stars such as Mo Salah, Hakim Ziyech, and Karim Benzema have all voiced support for the people of Gaza, as Israel continues its fierce bombardment of the Palestinian territory.

Salah used his huge public profile on Wednesday to reach out to his 18.6 million followers on X, formerly known as Twitter, informing them of a massacre at the Baptist Hospital in Gaza, killing around 500 Palestinians.

The Liverpool and Egypt forward called for humanitarian aid to be allowed into devastated Gaza as aid convoys queue at Egypt's Rafah border crossing waiting to enter and the UN warned of a "catastrophic" situation in the enclave with access to food, electricity, and other supplies cut by Israel.

He also urged world leaders to prevent a "further slaughter" in Gaza, with over 4,100 dead and thousands injured and surgeons using vinegar to treat wounds due to a shortage in medical supplies. 

"The escalations in the recent weeks [are] unbearable to witness. All lives are sacred and must be protected. The massacres need to stop. Families are being torn apart," Salah in the video.

"What's clear now is that humanitarian aid to Gaza must be allowed immediately. The people there are in terrible conditions. The scenes at the [Baptist] hospital last night [Tuesday] were horrifying."

The video has been viewed nearly 170 million times, received 1.1 million likes, and shared by more than 400,000 profiles, spreading the word about the horrifying situation in Gaza.

Salah has also reportedly made a "significant" donation to the Egyptian Red Crescent.

On the other side of North Africa, several Moroccan football players have also voiced solidarity with Gaza over social media.

Morocco and Bayern Munich defender Noussair Mazraoui shared a video on his Instagram story wishing Palestinians "victory" in the war against Israel.

"God help our persecuted brothers in Palestine so that they attain victory. May God have mercy on the dead, may God heal their wounded," said the voice in the video he shared, accompanied by a Palestinian flag.

This led to a backlash in German media, including the tabloid BILD which called for him to be banned from the Bundesliga if he didn't "distance" himself from Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip.

Bayern Munch and the Mazraoui on Friday issued a join statement clarifying the footballer's remarks, underlining that he does not condone Hamas.

"Noussair Mazraoui has credibly assured us that as a peace-loving person he resolutely rejects terror and war and he never meant to cause any irritation with his posts", said Jan-Christian Dreesen, CEO of FC Bayern.

It said that Bayern Munich condemns Hamas' 7 October attack in Israel, which killed 1,400 people, while Mazraoui declared: "I condemn all terrorism and terrorist organizations." 

It comes as German Chancellor Olaf Scholz this week warned that anyone showing any symbols of Hamas or burning the Israeli flag could be prosecuted. Pro-Palestine protests this week in Berlin have been violently broken up by police.

Another pro-Palestine statement in Europe that has been the subject of contention is "from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free", referring to Palestine's historic borders and the one-state solution to the Palestine-Israel conflict.

Morocco star Hakim Ziyech, who plays for Turkey's Galatasaray, posted this message on social media this week, in support of Gaza, along with a famed quote by African-American leader Malcolm X about media coverage of conflicts. This led to a backlash among some on social media, while Ziyech's post was welcomed by Palestinians.

French star Karim Benzema, now playing for Saudi side Al-Ittihad, has spoken out for Palestine leading to French politicians attacking the Ballon d'Or winner.