Sevilla striker Frederic Kanoute is facing a fine from the Spanish football federation for revealing a T-shirt expressing support for Palestine during a match this week.
Kanoute lifted his Sevilla shirt over his head after scoring in the team’s 2-1 Copa del Rey win over Deportivo La Coruna on Wednesday to display a black T-shirt on which the word “Palestine” was printed in several languages.
Kanoute, who was born in France but plays internationally for Mali, is a practicing Muslim.
Kanoute’s action, which has been interpreted as a response to Israel’s recent attacks on Gaza that have killed nearly 700 people, was met with a yellow card from referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz.
Lahoz said in his post-match report that he had cautioned Kanoute for raising his shirt over his head in accordance with federation rules, while also noting the message of the striker’s T-shirt.
Raphael Schultz, Israel’s ambassador in Madrid, told Spain’s Radio Marca on Thursday that Kanoute’s gesture “had gone beyond his profession and Fifa rules to this respect.”
“I saw the match and the T-shirt bore nothing more than the name of Palestine.
“It was not an incitement against Israel.
“I don’t think it extolled violence,” Schultz said.
Meanwhile, Palestine embassy official Mahmoud Aluanen told the same station that Kanoute “has shown himself to be a very brave person to support our people at a public event.”
“Sportsmen are human beings and cannot contain their feelings.
“They have all the right in the world to express their opinion about matters which contravene human rights.
“I’m sure that all Palestinian children, those who love football, will be happy about this gesture,” Aluanen added.
The incident came a day before Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas paid a
visit to Madrid for talks with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and King Juan Carlos.