- Youcef Atal has apologised for sharing an anti-Semitic video on Instagram
- Nice defender shared a video that asked God to ‘send Jewish people a dark day’
- Atal is under investigation by prosecutors and the French Football Federation
Nice have announced Youcef Atal has been suspended by the club with the defender facing an investigation for sharing an allegedly anti-Semitic video on Instagram.
The Algerian international shared a video of Palestinian preacher Mahmoud al-Hasanat last week before quickly deleting it amid the ongoing conflict in the Middle East.
In the video, al-Hasanat allegedly calls for God to ‘send Jewish people a dark day’.
The controversial post by Atal quickly drew attention, with the mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, saying that the 27-year-old should not have a future at his current club unless he ‘denounces Hamas terrorists’.
Nice public prosecutor’s office announced on Monday that Atal is under a preliminary investigation on charges ‘of defending terrorism’.
Youcef Atal has been suspended by Nice after after sharing an anti-semitic post on Instagram
The Algerian international defender issued an apology for the post on social media on Sunday
Atal is also being investigated for ‘public incitement to hatred or violence because of a particular religion.’
French Football Federation (FFF) President Philippe Diallo has also criticised Atal’s posts, with the organisation launching its own investigation into the Algerian international.
‘The calls for violence relayed by OGC Nice player Youcef Atal are contrary to the ethics of our sport and the values that football tirelessly defends,’ Diallo said.
‘The FFF condemns them with the most extreme firmness. Hate speech cannot be allowed.
‘It is with good reason that the National Ethics Council of the FFF took up this matter.’
Nice issued a statement to confirm they had spoken with Atal on his return from international duty with Algeria.
The Ligue 1 side announced the defender has been suspended until further notice, amid the investigations launched by prosecutors and the FFF.
‘OGC Nice understands that the player recognised his error by quickly withdrawing the sharing of the publication and presented his written and public apologies,’ a club statement read.
French Football Federation President Philippe Diallo confirmed earlier this week that Atal is being investigated by the organisation’s Ethics Council for his posts on social media
‘However, given the nature of the shared publication and its seriousness, the club took the decision to immediately take the first disciplinary sanctions against the player, prior to those that could be decided by the sporting and judicial authorities.
‘As such, the club has decided to suspend Youcef Atal until further notice.
‘We would like to emphasise that the reputation and unity of OGC Nice result from the behaviour of all of its employees who must be in accordance with the values defended by the institution.
‘As in its message last Friday, where OGC Nice recalled its firm commitment so that peace prevails over all other considerations.’
Atal had taken to Instagram again on Friday to apologise for the deleted post.
He said: ‘I am aware that my post shocked many people, which wasn’t my intention, and I apologise.
‘I want to clarify my point of view without any ambiguity: I strongly denounce all forms of violence, wherever in the world, and I support all victims.
‘I would never support a message of hate. Peace is an ideal in which I strongly believe.’
Atal has played for Nice since 2018, and previously attracted controversy when he liked an Instagram post that appeared to condone violence
Atal, who signed for Nice from Algerian side Paradou AC in 2018 and has made over 100 appearances for the Ligue 1 club.
The defender, who has started six of Nice’s eight Ligue 1 matches this season, has previously been involved in social media controversy.
In 2020, he liked an Instagram post that appeared to be condoning violence.
Atal also apologised on that occasion, saying that he didn’t ‘mean to hurt anyone’.
Mainz winger Anwar El Ghazi was suspended on Tuesday by the Bundesliga club after uploading a now-deleted social media post about the ongoing Israel-Gaza conflict.
Part of El Ghazi’s social media update stated: ‘Palestine will be free’ before he removed the post from his Instagram story.