The father of a young soccer fan who flew the Israeli flag in the club’s season opener to support Jewish star Harry Sheezel has criticized the AFL for saying the symbol should have been confiscated.
The supporter, known only as Josh, held up the flag to show his support for Sheezel, who was the target of vile anti-Semitic insults just before North Melbourne recruited him last November.
The flag upset some fans in last Saturday’s win over West Coast and the AFL admitted it should have been confiscated under league rules, in an email seen by SEN.
Sheezel is seen in front of the Israeli flag after playing a starring role in the Kangaroos’ victory over the West Coast, with another fan holding a “Mazel-tov Harry” sign to support the star.
Josh, the young AFL fan who displayed the symbol to support Sheezel after he faced anti-Semitic abuse last year, should have been banned from the field with him, the league said in an email.
Anyone displaying the symbol and refusing to hand it over should have been kicked off the ground, the league explained.
That angered Josh’s father, Gary, who called the AFL a “joke” over the issue and said his son was clear on bringing the flag to the game when he asked the police about it beforehand.
I’m not surprised about the AFL. Can they be more awake and politically correct? he said he in an interview with 3AW.
“It’s frustrating, it really is, with all the anti-Semitism that’s going on.
‘I told him look, you don’t have to take the Israeli flag, you can only take the Star of David, because he also made the sign that said ‘mazel tov Harry’ (good luck Harry).
‘Where is it going to end up if they’re going to ban signs that say mazel tov Harry? It’s getting ridiculous.
“We have a lot of players from South Sudan playing. Are we going to ban the flag of South Sudan? … What about banning the Australian flag?
Sheezel made one of the best debuts seen in the AFL for a long time in the win over West Coast, and Josh’s father said his son will fly the flag again in their game against Carlton.
“The AFL just make the rules up as they go, they really do.”
Gary, who confirmed that he and his son are Jewish, said no one on the field was offended by the flag and said the North Melbourne cheer team ‘loved’ Josh and invited him to sit with them again, despite who is a follower of Carlton.
He believes that Josh will carry the flag to the Good Friday game between the Blues and the Kangaroos, where he will still be willing to show his support for Sheezel.
According to the AFL email on the matter, that could prevent him from participating in the match.
Third-round pick Sheezel is already a huge favorite among the Shinboner faithful
In it, the league’s head of security, Alistair Meldrum, said the flag violated the game’s conditions of entry.
‘Once identified, (the flag) should have been requested to be seized/confiscated or the patron in possession should have been asked to leave if he refused to surrender the flag.’
The AFL’s conditions of entry to games include bans on sponsors ‘using or displaying commercial, political, religious or offensive signs or logos of any kind’.
Anti-Defamation Commission Chairman Dvir Abramovich said the AFL’s position is wildly inconsistent and discriminatory.
Either you have a consistent enforcement policy in respect of all national flags that demonstrates consistency and fairness, or you don’t,” he told Daily Mail Australia.
“This case feels like discrimination and double standards, especially when you consider that there was no objection or statement from Gillon McLachlan when Magpies fans celebrated in front of Collingwood forward Mason Cox last year by waving an American flag. Or in 2012 when Mike Pyke draped the Canadian flag during the Grand Final.’
Gary isn’t the only soccer fan who was stunned by the move.
‘Shall we ban all flags now?’ Channel Nine presenter Shane McInnes asked in a tweet.
“With all the antisemitism (sic) young Harry had to endure when he was drafted, surely an Israeli flag should be welcome.”
‘So are we also going to ban the Australian flag? Or the American flag? It is an official flag of the nations. Let’s go now #AFL’ another fan tweeted.