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20th Dec 2023

Mary Lou McDonald slams Robbie Keane for Israeli club job

Simon Kelly

Mary Lou Robbie Keane

“Sport and genocide shouldn’t mix.”

Mary Lou McDonald has slammed Robbie Keane for continuing on in his position as Maccabi Tel Aviv manager in Israel following the country’s actions in Gaza.

Saying that “sport and genocide don’t mix”, the Sinn Féin leader has hit out at the Irish football legend, insisting that sportspeople should be using their influence for good.

Keane, who was appointed Tel Aviv manager in June and had to flee the country following the Hamas attack on October 7, has previously stated that he “doesn’t want to get into politics”.

Since then, 20,000 Palestinians have been killed and 1.9 million people displaced by Israeli forces.

Mary Lou McDonald slams Robbie Keane for Israeli club job

In an interview with the Irish Examiner, Ms. McDonald was asked whether he made the right decision to continue as coach of the Israeli team following the country’s destruction of Gaza.

“No,” she said. “I don’t think he has and I know some people say sport and politics shouldn’t mix, but I would say sport and genocide shouldn’t mix.

“I think sport should be a force for good, for human capacity and human excellence and enjoyment and participation. I have a real problem with sport when it is under the remit of an apartheid regime and where genocide is being committed.

“I know lots and lots of sportspeople in Ireland and beyond have taken an incredibly firm stand on the Palestinian question, just as lots of sporting people did – and I’m thinking our rugby team, rugby players in particular – in respect of apartheid South Africa.

“I think leaders have to lead in times like this and I think sporting people, sporting heroes, have such an influence and such a reach.

“So I would encourage everybody of influence to make the right calls and the right choices.”

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