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Why Organizations Need a Political Stance: Lessons from European Football

Updated: Nov 2, 2023

Noussair Mazraoui in September 2023

In the days following the terror attacks on Israel on 7 October 2023, Noussair Mazraoui, a footballer for Bayern Munich, shared several posts on his Instagram account, which seemed to express support for Hamas in its war against Israel. After a storm of outrage in the German public, Mazraoui gave an interview in which he rejected “terrorism, hatred, and violence”, but failed to distance himself from Hamas.

Calls for disciplinary action by the club grew, especially since its members prepared to vote on a proposed changed to the club’s statutes, which would expressly outlaw all forms of antisemitism. On 20 October, Bayern Munich stated on its website that Mazraoui had credibly reaffirmed his rejection of terrorism and that he regretted any offence caused. The club also indicated that the player would not be suspended from the team.

On 24 October, Josef Schuster, President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany expressed his disappointment that Mazraoui had not faced any “visibly strong punishment” and that he had expected the player to clearly denounce Hamas, recognize Israel’s right to existence, and reject antisemitism in Germany.

Along with Bayern Munich, several European clubs have had to content with anti-Israeli sentiments from their players, including OGC Nice (Youcef Atal), Arsenal (Mohamed Elneny), and Mainz 05 (Anwar El-Ghazi). These cases show how difficult it is for organizations to publicly navigate divisive political issues. To remain credible, companies require a political stance aligned with their company values and must act in accordance with it. This will not only help them decide on a sound course of action, but also to undergird their decisions with a consistent line of argument.

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