Lawyers for the defender of the Algerian national team and the French football team Nice, Youssef Atal, announced today, Wednesday, that their client has appealed his suspended prison sentence for publishing a video clip calling for a “black day for the Jews” against the backdrop of the Israeli aggression against… Gaza.
The French court sentenced 27-year-old Atal, who is preparing to participate with his country in the finals of the African Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast between the 13th of this month and the 11th of next February, on the 3rd of this January to a suspended prison sentence of 8 months. And a fine of 45 thousand euros on charges of incitement to hatred based on religion.
His lawyers discussed the possibility of appealing the ruling immediately after it was pronounced, and his lawyer, Antoine Fay, explained that Atal “sent a message of support to the Palestinians in Gaza. For him, this is peace, and he is not the only one.”
But the indictment issued by the Deputy Public Prosecutor indicated that “there was nothing related to peace during any of these 35 seconds,” considering that the suspended prison sentence could be a “warning punishment” that would encourage the player to think now. Before making any future publications.
Atal defends himself
Atal defended himself by saying that he did not watch the entire video clip and reposted it without knowing all of its contents.
Today, Wednesday, the Ministry of Health in Gaza announced that the death toll from the Israeli aggression on the besieged Strip had risen to 23,357 martyrs, and 59,410 others had been injured since the start of the bombing of densely populated residential neighborhoods, schools and hospitals on October 7th.
Atal shared a video clip of preacher Mahmoud Al-Hasanat with his 3.2 million subscribers on Instagram.
Voices rose, including to the mayor of Nice, to denounce the video clip that Atal published, claiming that it contained anti-Semitic expressions calling for violence.
Atal quickly deleted the post and apologized, but his club decided on October 18 to suspend him until further notice, while the French League’s disciplinary committee suspended him for 7 matches on October 26.
An investigation was opened on October 16 after the Public Prosecution was notified by the municipality of Nice, on charges of “defending terrorism” and “incitement to hatred or violence based on a specific religion.”
After the French police arrested him in November, Atal was referred to the Public Prosecution Office before being summoned to the Criminal Court in Nice.
The player was placed under judicial supervision on a bail of 80,000 euros, in addition to being prohibited from leaving French territory, except for reasons related to his activity as a professional football player, which allowed him to participate with his country’s national team in 3 matches since he published the video clip.
The Algerian star said during his appearance before the court, “I am not anti-Semitic. I am neither against Jews nor against Christians. I have no hatred against anyone,” recalling that, unlike many athletes in the Arab world, he participated with Nice in a match held in the summer of 2022 in Tel Aviv vs. Maccabi of Israel in the playoff round of the Conference League.
Other football players were criticized for supporting the Palestinian people, such as former French international striker Karim Benzema.
Atal has the opportunity to play again with Nice upon his return from the African Cup of Nations, but his departure from their ranks remains possible during the winter transfer period.