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These are the footballers who shared solidarity messages with Palestine

Football stars speak out on Sheikh Jarrah and Jerusalem, as clubs wear scarves and T-shirts to show support amid increasing Israeli violence
Footballers from around the world, including in Chile (Cesar Cortes), Turkey (Mesut Ozil) and Qatar (Santi Cazorla), showed gestures of solidarity after recent Israeli aggression against Palestinians (Twitter)

Football stars from around the world have shared social media posts expressing solidarity with Palestinians, amid a recent escalation in Israeli violence in Jerusalem and Gaza. 

Over the past week, Israeli forces have violently cracked down on protests against the imminent eviction of six Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in occupied East Jerusalem. 

Israeli police have also repeatedly attacked al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, with tear gas, sound grenades and rubber bullets, injuring several hundred people. 

The violence then moved to the besieged Gaza Strip, where deadly air strikes from Israel have killed at least 48 Palestinians, including 14 children. At least five Israelis have been killed by rockets fired from Gaza. 

Footballers have led the way among celebrities, using their large platforms to raise awareness about the situation. 

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Mahrez, Salah and Pogba speak out 

Manchester City’s Algerian star Riyad Mahrez was one of the first out the blocks on Monday, tweeting a Palestinian flag with the hashtags "Palestine" and "Save Sheikh Jarrah". 

Arsenal and Egypt’s Mohamed Elneny soon followed, stating: “My heart and my soul and my support for you Palestine.”

Several other Egyptian footballers shared messages, including Aston Villa’s Ahmed Elmohamady and Trezeguet, Zamalek captain Shikabala and Olympiacos’ Ahmed Hassan “Kouka”

Retired Egyptian superstar Mohamed Aboutrika, who was once reprimanded by football authorities for wearing a T-shirt which read “Sympathise with Gaza”, posted a prayer for the protection of al-Aqsa and Palestinians. 

Meanwhile, the country’s current global icon, Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah, said: “I’m calling on all the world leaders including on the prime minister of the country that has been my home for the past four years to do everything in their power to make sure the violence and killing of innocent people stops immediately. Enough is enough.”

He accompanied the post with a picture of himself outside the Dome of the Rock in al-Aqsa. 

In 2013, while playing for Swiss club Basel, Salah stoked controversy after he avoided shaking hands with players from Israeli team Maccabi Tel Aviv in both home and away matches.

Salah’s Liverpool teammate Sadio Mane also shared a picture of al-Aqsa on Tuesday evening, with the words “Free Palestine”.

Leicester City’s Turkish defender Caglar Soyuncu said: “My prayers are with my brothers in Jerusalem. No more innocent people should die. It is enough #FreePalestine #SavePalestine”. 

Soyuncu’s Leicester City clubmate Wesley Fofana, who has recently been praised for fasting during football matches, reshared a post about Sheikh Jarrah on his Instagram account. 

Others to share messages included French stars Franck Ribery, Benjamin Mendy and Paul Pogba. 

“The world needs peace and love. It will soon be Eid, let us all love one another. #PrayForPalestine,” Pogba wrote on Instagram. 

There were also messages of support from North African stars Islam Slimani and Achraf Hakimi, the latter of whom posted a powerful viral video of Palestinian activist and musician Maryam al-Afifi interrogating an Israeli soldier.

Football teams show support

In addition to individual footballers, some entire teams shared gestures of support for Palestinians. 

Chilean Premier League side Club Deportivo Palestino, which was set up in 1920 by Palestinian immigrants, wore keffiyehs before their fixture on Saturday as a show of solidarity. 

“Palestine is an important part of our identity as a team,” the club’s president Jorge Uauy said. “Palestinian symbols, such as the keffiyeh, show the connection we have to our motherland. We need to stand together against adversity.”

Meanwhile, in Qatar, players from both Al-Arabi and Al-Sadd, including Spain’s Santi Cazorla, donned Palestinian scarves and held up a sign which read “Palestine is in our hearts” ahead of their match on Sunday.

Translation: "Al-Sadd v Al-Arabi players carry a sign in the name of Palestine before the match begins #PalestineInOurHearts #AmirCup"

The same gesture was shared by Kuwaiti teams Al-Salmiyah and Al-Arabi prior to their contest on Saturday. 

On Tuesday, Turkish side Fenerbahce warmed up for their game against Sivasspor wearing “Free Palestine” T-shirts. Among the players to wear it was Mesut Ozil, who has a long history of being outspoken on political and humanitarian issues. 

In Scotland, Celtic fans flew Palestinian flags before their game against St Johnstone on Wednesday. The Glasgow-based team's supporters have regularly backed the Palestinian cause, often singing songs and waving banners. 

More curiously, West Ham United and Wolverhampton Wanderers posted strong messages of solidarity on their Arabic social media accounts, only to delete the posts hours later. 

“You don't have to be Palestinian to speak. You have to be a human,” the Wolves deleted tweet said. “Our hearts and our prayers are always behind you in Palestine. God save the people of Jerusalem and all of Palestine.”

The now-removed West Ham statement said that Palestine “was and always will remain the land and home for the Palestinians alone” and that the club supported them in the struggle. 

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