Corbyn calls for Arsenal boycott after it advertised Israeli tourism

EXCLUSIVE: Corbyn scores an own goal! Labour leader demands boycott on Arsenal FC – who he supports – over club’s Israeli tourism sponsorship deal

  • Corbyn demanded a boycott of Arsenal FC when it accepted a sponsorship deal from the Israeli tourist board
  • Labour leader demanded fans abandon the club after Israeli holiday destinations were advertised at the stadium
  • Corbyn is known to be a keen Arsenal fan and is a regular supporter at the club’s Emirates stadium, which is in his north London constituency 
  • He spoke out against the club at the Palestine Solidarity Campaign Trade Union Conference in 2006
  • Revelations will further embarrass the Labour leader as he struggles to contain the ongoing anti-Semitism row as party conference looms

Jeremy Corbyn demanded a boycott of Arsenal football club after it accepted sponsorship from the Israeli tourist board, MailOnline can reveal.

The Labour leader, who is known to be an Arsenal supporter, demanded that fans abandon his own club after Israeli holiday destinations were advertised at the stadium.

‘We must campaign against and boycott Arsenal football club for their arrangement with the Israeli tourist board,’ Mr Corbyn told the Palestine Solidarity Campaign Trade Union Conference in 2006.

‘It is wrong to treat both parties [Israel and the Palestinians] as equals,’ he said, adding: ‘The situation is the running sore of US foreign policy.’ 

The £350,000 deal was approved by Dubai-based Emirates airline, Arsenal’s main sponsor, before going ahead. The UAE is known for its hostility to Israel and has never recognised its right to exist.

The revelations will further embarrass the Labour leader as he struggles to contain the ongoing anti-Semitism row as party conference looms.

Jeremy Corbyn demanded a boycott of Arsenal football club, the team that he supports, after the club accepted a sponsorship deal from the Israeli tourist board, MailOnline can reveal

The Labour leader, known to be a regular in the stands at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium, wanted fans to abandon his own club after Israeli holiday destinations were advertised at the stadium

Listed as a speaker alongside Mr Corbyn at the 2006 conference was preacher Daud Abdullah, who called for attacks on the Royal Navy if it tried to prevent arms smuggling into Gaza, and led a boycott of Holocaust Memorial Day.

A number of inflammatory comments were made at the event, with speakers calling Israel ‘the biggest threat to world peace’ and ‘the cuckoo in the nest of the Middle East’.

Gideon Falter, chairman of the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, said: ‘Jeremy Corbyn’s obsession with Israel blinds him.

‘He has called for a boycott of his own football club, not because of its close association with the Emirates – which engages in torture and execution – but because of some obscure connection to Israel.’

Mr Corbyn has supported the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which calls for a wholesale boycott of everything associated with Israel, in the past.

In 2015, he was filmed apparently endorsing the BDS movement as ‘part and parcel of a legal process that has to be adopted’.

The video, taken just months before he assumed the Labour leadership, was filmed during a conference in Belfast. He said: ‘I believe that sanctions against Israel… are the appropriate way of promoting [the] peace process.’

Mr Corbyn has since maintained that he opposes a boycott of Israel as a whole, instead supporting a boycott of produce from settlements on the West Bank.

‘We must campaign against and boycott Arsenal football club for their arrangement with the Israeli tourist board,’ Mr Corbyn (pictured with Sadiq Khan) told a conference in 2006

In February, he appeared in a ‘show racism the red card’ video at Arsenal where he was interviewed about his support for the anti-racism charity.

But the appearance descended into farce after it was revealed that the YouTube star interviewing him, David Vujanic, sent tweets containing the N-word and joked about Jews and Hitler.

In a series of tweets in 2012, Mr Vujanic wrote: ‘Hitler was playing the Jew challenge game. Jew goals are my speciality.

‘I bet if Hitler was alive and did a little Dougie [a dance move] everyone would forget about the whole genocide thing.’

He also joked about black men dating white women. Mr Vujanic apologised for the tweets after they were reported by the press.

A spokesman for Mr Corbyn said Mr Vulanic was right to apologise, calling his tweets ‘absolutely vile’.

Mr Corbyn’s call for a boycott of Arsenal came just two years after he signed a parliamentary motion calling the it ‘the best football club in the world’.

The motion was proposed by the late Brian Sedgemore MP, a controversial Labour figure who defected to the Liberal Democrats in the middle of the 2005 election.

‘This House… admires [Arsenal] for the fluency and poetry that they have brought to the beautiful game,’ the motion said.

The revelations will embarrass the Labour leader (pictured with Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier) as he struggles to contain the ongoing anti-Semitism row as party conference looms

Mr Corbyn, whose Islington constituency contains the Arsenal ground, has also sponsored motions congratulating the men’s and women’s teams when they won the FA cup.

The revelations that the Labour leader called for the club to be be boycotted throws the extent of his support for Arsenal into doubt.

A Labour spokesman said: ‘Jeremy has never boycotted an Arsenal game. He does support targeted action aimed at illegal settlements and the occupation of Palestinian territories, and has backed campaigns to bring it to an end.’

Arsenal football club declined to comment.

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