Ligue 1 club Nice suspended Algerian international Youcef Atal on Wednesday “until further notice” after he published a contentious social media message about the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas.
Despite the fact that he swiftly deleted the tweet and apologized, the club stated in a press release that, due to the “seriousness” of the post, it was instituting immediate disciplinary action “prior to any action that may be taken by the sporting and legal authorities.”
On Monday, French authorities opened a preliminary inquiry against Atal on suspicion of “glorifying terrorism.”
Atal, 27, was called into a meeting with the club hierarchy following his return from international duty with Algeria, during which period he made the post.
“We would like to emphasise that the reputation and unity of OGC Nice depends on the behaviour of all of its employees, who must be in accordance with the values defended by the institution,” said the club, adding its “firm commitment to ensuring that peace prevails over all other considerations”.
Since Saturday, Atal has been publicly chastised for uploading a video on Instagram from a Palestinian preacher supposedly inciting for violence against Jews.
Football officials, politicians, a Jewish organization, and Nice’s mayor have all condemned the remark, which Atal erased before apologizing.
The original post’s substance could not be independently verified by AFP.
France, which has a sizable Jewish and Muslim population, increased security following Hamas’s catastrophic attack on Israel on October 7.
In addition, officials raised the country’s alert level for future attacks after a teacher was stabbed to death on Friday by a former student in what MPs described as Islamist terrorism.
After being contacted by local lawmakers, the Nice prosecutor’s office stated in a statement that it was investigating Atal for “glorification of terrorism” under statutes governing “glorification of terrorism.”
Prosecutors said police would look into whether the tweet incited religious hatred or violence.
On Tuesday, the South East section of France’s Representative Council of Jewish Institutions (CRIF) filed a complaint against the player.
Since announcing on Sunday that its ethics committee would investigate the player, the French Football Federation (FFF) has been silent.
Atal responded to the criticism by telling his Instagram followers that he would “never support a message of hate,” but he did not explain why he uploaded the video.