Rabbi returns to FA’s Faith in Football group after quitting over 7/10 response

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Rabbi returns to FA’s Faith in Football group after quitting over 7/10 response

Rabbi Alex Goldberg resigned from Faith in Football group in October in protest at the FA's response to Hamas massacres.

Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist

Rabbi Alex Goldberg addressing a conference
Rabbi Alex Goldberg addressing a conference

The rabbi who resigned as chair of the Football Association’s Faith in Football group, within days of the Hamas massacre in Israel, has changed his mind, and will be returning to work with the FA.

On October 13, Rabbi Alex Goldberg — who had worked with the FA for 16 years — gave up his post as chair of Faith in Football in an angry protest at the FA’s stance over honouring victims of the Hamas attacks.

Writing then to the chief executive of the FA, Mark Bullingham, Rabbi Goldberg said he was “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”.

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”.

This week, however, in a social media post, Rabbi Goldberg disclosed that intense behind-the-scenes discussions had been taking place whose conclusions had enabled him to return to working with the FA.

He wrote: “Following a meeting this week at Wembley I have decided to re-engage with the Football Association and joined their antisemitism task force. Over the last three months, the FA has put into action a zero tolerance approach to antisemitism and worked hard to repair their relationship with the Jewish community.

“Responding to demands from Lord Mann, Maccabi and myself, the FA is committed to making stadia and the game a safe space for Jewish players, staff, and supporters”.

Additionally, he said: “We are working on a renewed effort on inter-communal relations, using football to bring together diverse communities under the banner of One ball. One game. One Community. Our new programme could include a new and renewed schools linking programme between single faith or belief schools, as well as imams, rabbis; vicars and other faith and worldview leaders on field training days at St George’s Park (the training ground of England) and much more”.

Rabbi Goldberg said he was “proud to be a part of this initiative” and looked forward to working with the FA “to make football a welcoming and inclusive space for all”.

He paid tribute to FA officials Debbie Hewitt and Mark Bullingham, and for the support of the Chief Rabbi in the last few months. “His help and that of his office has been invaluable in overcoming serious concerns raised by the community. I hope this is a beginning of a renewed and fruitful relationship”.


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