French authorities have said that Algerian footballer Youcef Atal was detained for questioning and will stand trial for sharing a social media post that purportedly encouraged violence against Jews.
In a statement on Friday, prosecutors said that police detained Atal, who plays for French club Nice, for questioning on Thursday as part of a probe into possible “justification of terrorism” over the post.
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He was released on bail of 80,000 euros ($87,500) on Friday, and placed under judicial supervision pending the trial. He is not allowed to leave France except for international games.
The 27-year-old footballer was suspended for seven games by the French football league for sharing a social media post last month in which a Palestinian preacher allegedly made anti-Semitic statements calling for violence against Jews.
Al Jazeera was not able to confirm the contents of the post, which Atal quickly deleted and apologised for.
Nice authorities opened an investigation into the matter, and prosecutors have said that Atal, who has been suspended by his club “until further notice”, will face trial on December 18 for possible incitement to religious hatred.
Atal has said that he would “never support a message of hate” and that he condemns violence “no matter where in the world” but has not offered an explanation for why he shared the video.
The Nice defender is one of several footballers who have faced criticism or penalties for social media posts amid the escalating fighting between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas that has created simmering tensions in communities around the world.
After French football star Karim Benzema criticised “unjust bombings which spare no women or children” in a social media post about Israel’s assault on Gaza, which Palestinian authorities say has killed more than 6,500 children, France’s Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin accused him — without evidence — of having links to the Islamist group the Muslim Brotherhood.
A French senator also called on Benzema to be stripped of previous football awards as well as his French citizenship.
On Thursday, a council member of the Football Association (FA), English football’s governing body, resigned after comparing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.
“Recent events have left me bereft of energy and hope. I have felt overwhelmed at how this has transpired,” Wasim Haq said in a resignation letter posted to social media, in which he said that he had meant to criticise a politician and not Jewish people more widely.
“As someone who has worked closely with many Jewish people over the years and created meaningful and valued friendships, the most painful part of this process is knowing that some of those friends and colleagues may not forgive me for the misunderstanding and hurt I have unintentionally caused.”
Dutch footballer Anwar El Ghazi was also expelled from the German football team Mainz 05 after social media posts in support of Palestine, despite reiterating his opposition to anti-Semitism and violence against civilians.
El Ghazi has taken legal action against the club over his termination.