Liverpool have apologised to a Jewish fan who complained to the club after a banner was removed from the Kop before the Merseyside derby that mourned the death of three Israelis during the Hamas attacks on October 7.
The banner showed the faces of the Liverpool supporters and read “In Loving Memory of the Fallen Israeli Reds”. There was no Israel flag on the banner.
Meanwhile, several Palestinian flags did appear at Anfield, while another banner was unfurled before kick-off which read “For God’s Sake Save Gaza”. The banners were not visible during the match.
The Premier League issued guidance to its clubs last week advising them to prohibit Israel and Palestinian flags inside stadiums following the escalation of the Israel-Gaza war.
The league said the decision was taken after it consulted with safety organisations and Jewish groups, with this being one of their recommendations.
The implementation of the Premier League policy was left up to the clubs and their security teams.
The Athletic understands that Liverpool were also advised by Merseyside Police to restrict banners with political links ahead of the derby.
An email to the complainant, who says the flag was made having looked at the requirements “to make sure it was acceptable,” opened with an acknowledgment that “requesting that the flag brought to commemorate the death of Israeli Reds not be displayed has been emotive for some of our fans and we apologise that it has been upsetting for you.”
It went on to say that “a number of flags and banners from across the political and national spectrum be removed as they didn’t meet our flag and banner policy, and the additional guidance from the Premier League.”
The email continued: “These included flags containing direct calls to action, political statements, national flags and flags which could have caused disquiet, no matter how harmless the individual flying them felt them to be.
“In some cases we identified the flags and banners before they were flown and in some cases we only became aware of them once they had been displayed in the stands and then immediately asked for them to be removed.
“None were permitted or authorised by the club for display, and all were taken down when our stewards asked for them to be for safety reasons.
“The flag policy exists because some issues will always divide opinion and therefore could cause conflict between supporters, and our actions were based on safety rather any other motivation.
“We marked our respect with a minutes silence before Saturday’s game as the thoughts of everybody at Liverpool Football Club are with the innocent civilians, including our supporters, who have lost their lives, and all the communities impacted by the ongoing crisis in Israel and Gaza.”
How Israeli football is responding to the war
(Photo courtesy of anonymous complainant)