Israeli soccer player Sagiv Yehezkel, who plays for Turkish Super League club Antalyaspor, has been arrested for unveiling a pro-Israeli message.
Yekhezkel was detained and interrogated by police after displaying a message in favor of the Israeli hostages, which read: “100 days – 10/07”, referring to how long the hostages have been held by Hamas.
It was deemed by authorities that the 28-year-old had ‘incited hatred’ after he celebrated scoring the equalizer in the game against Trabzonspor.
Yehezkel celebrated his goal by running to the camera to show a message written on the bandage on his hand, which could now cost him dearly.
Excluded from his team
The first reaction from Antalyaspor coach Sergen Yalcin was to remove him from the field just 10 minutes after levelling the match, although it would not be the only one.
The player would later be expelled from his team for having “acted against the values of our country,” according to the club’s official statement announcing the player’s exclusion.
He is also being investigated for incitement to hatred, with the matter being passed onto the Turkish Minister of Justice, Yilmaz Tun.
“The Antalya prosecutor’s office has opened a judicial investigation against Israeli footballer Sagiv Yehezkel for public incitement to hatred due to his hateful celebration in favor of the massacre committed by Israel in Gaza,” he said in a statement published on social media.
Sagiv Yehezkel explains his actions
After being detained and interrogated by the Turkish police, Yehezkel was released and explained the reason for displaying the message: “I want the war to end,” he said.
He went on to elaborate further on his decision to make a public stand and denied that he tried to incite trouble in the stadium.
“I did nothing to provoke anyone. I am not in favor of war. There are Israelis being held hostage in Gaza,” he said, according to television channel NTV, which claims to have had access to his police interrogation.
“I have never disrespected anyone since I have been in Turkey. I want the war to end. That’s why I showed that message.”