Israeli flag provokes death threats for Ghana
22 June 2006, ACCRA - Ghana's foreign minister apologised Wednesday for a footballer's waving of the Israeli flag at the World Cup, saying it had no official support and should not be allowed to harm ties with Arab countries.
22 June 2006
ACCRA - Ghana's foreign minister apologised Wednesday for a footballer's waving of the Israeli flag at the World Cup, saying it had no official support and should not be allowed to harm ties with Arab countries.
Some Ghanaian embassies in the Arab world received death threats after the incident involving national team player John Painstil, Foreign Minister Nana Akufo-Addo said.
Painstil, who plays club football in Israel, held up the flag during the celebration of Ghana's second goal against Czech Republic on Saturday.
Ghana's government hopes the country's cordial ties with Arab nations will not be affected, Akufo-Addo said, adding that he had conveyed the government's apologies to the Arab world and the international community.
He had met the ambassadors of Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, Saudi Arabia and Syria.
Akufo-Addo said Painstil's flag-waving was "a regrettable isolated act of an individual, who was completely ignorant of the political and democratic implications of his act."
He said Ghana would continue to handle its relationship with Israel and the Arab countries in the Middle East conflict in an even- handed approach as it had done over the years.
Akufo-Addo said there had been no shift in Ghana's position in terms of support and expressed the hope that the incident would die a natural death.
"Already our Ambassadors in Saudi Arabia, Cairo and Tripoli, who were summoned by the respective foreign ministries of those countries, have communicated the government's position on the issue to their satisfaction.
"At the moment, there have not been any ugly reprisals aside some death threats through the phone to some of our embassies in the Arab countries."
He said it was important for the incident to be put to rest early to enable the Black Stars, who are not just representing the nation but Africa, to have the peace of mind to focus on the task ahead.
Painstil created a furore in the Arab world when he waved the Israeli flag during the celebration of Ghana's 2-0 win over the Czech Republic.
The player said the gesture was to acknowledge the presence of some friends in the crowd, who had travelled from Israel to watch him.
Subject: German news