Following a major backlash, the French policing authority and the Strasbourg’s county governor reversed its decision to ban Israeli flags and limit the amount of Israeli fans allowed to attend UEFA Europa League match between Maccabi Haifa and RC Strasbourg Alsace.
Earlier in the day, the county governor enraged Israeli soccer fans, not to mention the country’s Culture and Sport Ministry and its Foreign Affairs Ministry, when he limited the number of Israeli fans allowed to enter the Stade de la Meinau. The governor had said local police were concerned about ensuring public safety at the football match.
However, a little over an hour before the 7:45 p.m. kickoff, the French policing authority – known as the Prefecture – rescinded the decision, but made it clear that Israeli flags were only allowed inside the stadium and not in the streets or in public squares outside.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry said that from conversations the embassy in Paris had with the authorities in Strasbourg, it was made clear that the directives against flag waving by supporters of both teams in the streets of the city were due to considerations over “security” and “public order,” and that the restrictions are only in effect outside the stadium, not inside it.
Israel’s ambassador in Paris, Aliza Bin-Nun, said in her conversations with authorities in Strasbourg that the flag “should symbolise brotherhood and freedom between the two teams – two values of the French Republic that were being currently denied to the supporters of Maccabi Haifa.”