Leicester City midfielder Hamza Choudhury apologised and deleted a post on X after using the phrase “from the river to the sea” alongside an image of a Palestinian flag; The FA decided against imposing a sanction on Choudhury, but players risk being investigated by police
The FA will write to clubs advising players not to use the phrase “from the river to the sea” in social media posts as it is “considered offensive to many”.
Leicester City midfielder Hamza Choudhury apologised and deleted a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, for using the phrase alongside a Palestinian flag.
After an investigation, the FA decided against imposing a sanction on Choudhury, but if any player uses the phrase again, they run the risk of being investigated by police.
An FA spokesperson said: “After careful consideration, we will be writing to all clubs to make it clear that this phrase is considered offensive to many, and should not be used by players in social media posts. The player has apologised and deleted the tweet.
“We are strongly encouraging clubs to ensure that players do not post content which may be offensive or inflammatory to any community. If this phrase is used again by a football participant, we will seek police guidance on how we should treat it and respond.”
The phrase references the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea and Jewish groups see it as effectively advocating an extension of a Palestinian state which would eradicate Israel.
Others see it as calling for a West Bank free of the Israeli occupation.
Choudhury, 26, said in a statement: “It was and is not my intention to cause offence to anyone but simply to show compassion for the innocent people that are suffering.
“I’m sorry for any offence this has caused. I share the hope of people around the world that a peaceful resolution can bring an end to the ongoing suffering of innocent people in this conflict.”
The FA are moving to increase clarity for clubs who are concerned about players who may comment on the Israeli-Hamas war on their social media channels and use potentially inflammatory language.
Championship side Leicester said: “We have discussed the matter with Hamza, and shared our concerns that views expressed in this manner – without sufficient context on a deeply nuanced and sensitive topic – are open to misinterpretation, which risks unintentional offence among sections of our communities.
“The thoughts of Leicester City Football Club remain with all the innocent victims of the tragic events unfolding in Israel and Palestine, their families and the communities affected.”
Anti-discrimination charity Kick It Out said: “As events in the Middle East continue, we recognise that opinions are divided and we urge caution for those who take to social media where messages can be misinterpreted and can cause offence.
“As always, we would underline the importance of education so that all of football can better understand other communities and the impact of language. We reiterate our call for fans, players and all participants to show respect for each other at a difficult and tragic time.”