Nice has suspended their Algerian defender Youcef Atal following an incident involving a controversial social media post related to the ongoing Israel-Gaza conflict. Atal, who had shared a video on his Instagram account and subsequently deleted it, faced public backlash for the content of the post, which was deemed offensive and potentially antisemitic in nature.
The club has stated that Atal has expressed remorse for his actions, issuing a public apology and stressing that his intention was not to incite hate or violence. Despite the apology, the severity of the issue prompted Nice to suspend Atal immediately, pending further investigation and disciplinary action. The French club emphasized that the content shared by Atal does not align with the values of the club and emphasized their commitment to maintaining unity and respect within the organization.
The public prosecutor’s office in Nice has initiated a preliminary investigation into Atal’s case, exploring charges related to glorifying terrorism and inciting hatred or violence based on religious affiliation. Furthermore, the French Football Federation’s National Ethics Council is also looking into the matter, emphasizing their commitment to preventing hate speech within the realm of football.
Atal’s suspension by Nice comes in the wake of similar disciplinary action taken by German side Mainz against their player Anwar El Ghazi for a separate social media post related to the Israel-Gaza conflict.
Atal, a key figure in the Algerian national team, has been an important part of Nice’s squad since his arrival from Belgian side KV Kortrijk in 2018.