The Rabbi who is the chair of the FA’s Faith in Football group has resigned over the governing body’s refusal to light up the Wembley arch in Israel’s colours.

It comes after the FA announced the famous arch at England‘s home stadium would not be lit up for the Three Lions’ clash with Australia this evening.

This is despite the ongoing Israel-Hamas war that has seen more than 1,200 people killed in Israel after a series of attacks launched by the Palestinian militant group.

Instead, they called for fans to hold a minute’s silence to ‘remember the innocent victims’ on both sides of the conflict and banned Israeli and Palestinian flags from the match. Players will also wear black armbands. 

Rabbi Alex Goldberg has said the planned measures are not enough, especially given the arch was lit up to mark the invasion of Ukraine, terror attacks in France, Pele’s death and various causes célèbres.

The Rabbi who is the chair of the FA's Faith in Football group has resigned over the governing body's refusal to light up the Wembley arch in Israel's colours for England's game with Australia

The Rabbi who is the chair of the FA's Faith in Football group has resigned over the governing body's refusal to light up the Wembley arch in Israel's colours for England's game with Australia

The Rabbi who is the chair of the FA’s Faith in Football group has resigned over the governing body’s refusal to light up the Wembley arch in Israel’s colours for England’s game with Australia

Alex Goldberg told FA CEO Mark Bullingham he was 'profoundly disappointed' in their decision

Alex Goldberg told FA CEO Mark Bullingham he was 'profoundly disappointed' in their decision

Alex Goldberg told FA CEO Mark Bullingham he was ‘profoundly disappointed’ in their decision

In an letter to the FA’s chief executive, Mark Bullingham, Goldberg said: ‘(I am) profoundly disappointed in the FA’s decision not to have a specific tribute during the upcoming matches against Australia and Italy at Wembley Stadium, to the victims of the worst single atrocity committed against Jewish targets since the Shoah.’ 

Goldberg – who has worked with the FA for 16 years – also told the FA that their Faith in Football group will no longer continue to work with the governing body. 

He added: ‘It’s imperative that our responses and actions, especially in international platforms like those at Wembley Stadium, are unequivocal in their support for the victims of such atrocities.

‘Your formula looks like a form of moral equivalence, which is just not appropriate this week. The decision not to light up the (Wembley) arch has been received badly tonight within the community, where attacks on Jews in England have already gone up three-fold. 

‘Many see the statement —only to permit flags and representations of the competing nations — as eradicating Jewish symbols and it has compounded grievances with the gravity of the recent events — but also inadvertently neglects the security and emotional well-being of Jewish fans who may be in attendance.

‘Planned gestures of wearing black armbands and observing a moment of silence are respectful; however, they may not fully convey the depth of solidarity and support necessary for the communities affected, both directly and indirectly, by these atrocious acts of violence, nor help give reassurance to Jews being attacked in this country now.’

The rabbi went onto say how he was writing ‘as a rabbi, as a father of children living in Israel’ and said he ‘strongly urged a reassessment of the FA’s stance on this matter.’

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer joined Goldberg in condemning the FA as she said: ‘I am extremely disappointed by the FA’s decision not to light up the Wembley Stadium arch following last weekend’s horrific terrorist attacks in Israel, and have made my views clear to the FA.

Wembley's arch lit in yellow and blue in an expression of solidarity with Ukraine following Russia's invasion last year, and it has also been lit up on several other occasions in recent times

Wembley's arch lit in yellow and blue in an expression of solidarity with Ukraine following Russia's invasion last year, and it has also been lit up on several other occasions in recent times

Wembley’s arch lit in yellow and blue in an expression of solidarity with Ukraine following Russia’s invasion last year, and it has also been lit up on several other occasions in recent times

Goldberg strongly condemned the FA and urged them to reassess their stance on the matter

Goldberg strongly condemned the FA and urged them to reassess their stance on the matter

Goldberg strongly condemned the FA and urged them to reassess their stance on the matter

‘It is especially disappointing in light of the FA’s bold stance on other terrorist attacks in the recent past.

‘Words and actions matter. The Government is clear: We stand with Israel.’

When the FA has lit up Wembley’s arch 

October 1, 2014 – Lit up in pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

November 15, 2015 – Lit up in the blue, white and red of the French flag for the Paris terror attacks

June 29, 2016 – Lit up in red in support of Istanbul Atatürk Airport attack

March 19, 2020 – Lit up in blue in support of the NHS

December 3, 2020 – Lit up in purple for International Day of Persons with Disabilities

March 8, 2022 – Lit up in purple for International Women’s Day

February 25, 2022 – Lit up in colours of the Ukrainian flag

November 25, 2022 – Lit up in the colours of the LGBT pride flag

December 29, 2022 – Lit up in the yellow and green of the Brazil flag in tribute to Pele

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Tory party chairman Lee Anderson added: ‘The cowards at the FA need to man up and light up Wembley in support of Israel. Failure to do so will leave a dark stain on our beautiful game.’

The Chelsea Jewish Supporters Group also said: ‘This spineless response is why we need people to speak out against terrorism.’ 

It is understood senior FA officials are wary of a perception that they might be taking sides in the Middle East conflict. 

The move stands in stark contrast with the Royal Family – the King and the Prince and Princess of Wales unequivocally condemned the terrorist atrocity on Thursday. 

In a statement, the FA said: ‘On Friday evening we will remember the innocent victims of the devastating events in Israel and Palestine.

‘Our thoughts are with them, and their families and friends and with all the communities who are affected by this ongoing conflict.

‘England and Australia players will wear black armbands … and there will also be a period of silence held before kick-off.’

Wembley’s arch has long been used to mark tragedies, causes and institutions. It was lit up  when Putin‘s Russia invaded Ukraine. 

Meanwhile, in 2015 it wore the familiar colours of the French Tricolore as a sign of solidarity with all the victims of the Bataclan attack in Paris where extremists killed 130 people.

A year after Bataclan, it was turned red as a mark of respect and sympathy following attacks in Turkey. 

And at the end of 2022, when the pioneer of modern football Pele died, the arch was lit up in the colours of Brazil with Pele’s name in bright lights. 

Weeks earlier rainbow colours in support of the LGBTQ + community shone out amid the ‘OneLove’ armband saga at the Qatar World Cup.

Support for the Alzheimer’s Society also led to the arch changing colour. There has also been support on International Women’s Day last year, for the NHS in 2021 and International Day of Persons with Disability in 2020.

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