Whatever people try and claim, football can never be separate from politics, and one of the most viral moments of the World Cup so far came when an England fan shout “free Palestine” live on TV.
England fan Martin Near spoke to an Arabic TV channel after England’s win over Wales and said football was "coming home" before speaking the words "free Palestine" in Arabic.
Near, who had a St George’s cross painted on his face and wore an England shirt in the clip, has now spoken about his message and hoped he has started a trend among fans.
Near told Middle East Eye: “The cross on the face is not representative of the crusades. The cross of St George is our national flag, part of [the] England team flag and it does not represent anything else. St George himself is a Palestinian, an important fact people miss out," he emphasised.
He went on to speak about the image of England fans as "drunk, fighting idiots, perhaps a little bit racist and a little bit stupid” often perpetuated in the media.
"That's absolutely not the case. There is a wide range of people, and some of the fans care very deeply about injustice, and some of us can support our national team to win the football and at the same time can call for a free Palestine," he said.
"I'm proud to say 'free Palestine', and I hope all England fans will join me in saying Filisteen hora," Near added.
\u201c\u201cWe can call for a free Palestine, we can call for an end to injustice.\u201d\n\nMiddle East Eye spoke to Martin Near, the English fan who went viral after shouting \u201cFalasteen Hurra\u201d, Free Palestine, during a live broadcast after the England-Wales game in the World Cup group stage.\u201d
He isn’t the only one to shout “free Palestine” on TV during the tournament, either. A man did just that after England beat Senegal, only this time it was live on an Isreali TV channel.
Near hopes he’s started a trend, saying: "Could this be the start of something? Is this a trend now? Are we going to see at the end of every game England's fans grabbing the microphone and shouting 'free Palestine'? I hope so."
Have your say in our news democracy. Click the upvote icon at the top of the page to help raise this article through the indy100 rankings.