Gay pride flag (illustration)
Gay pride flag (illustration)Reuters

Shlomi Barzel, head of the public relations department of the Israeli soccer association, sent out a notice on Tuesday to all of the league teams warning them that using outside flags of any type is forbidden, such as the "gay pride" rainbow flag.

The decision was made following the petition of Attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir, who complained that the Jerusalem soccer club Hapoel Katamon had replaced its corner flags in a recent match this week with gay pride flags.

"I'm satisfied with the decision and hope that the Hapoel Katamon club will internalize that the corner flag can't be replaced with the flags of the 'Open House' people," Ben-Gvir said in response to the decision, referring to the Jerusalem gay activist center of that name.

The attorney added: "the law is the law, rules are rules, and we all have to observe the rules so that we will have sports clean of politics and agendas."

The decision by Hapoel Katamon's management to replace the corner flags with gay pride flags was made even more controversial due to the fact that the team plays in Jerusalem which is largely religious, and given that homosexuality is forbidden by Jewish law.

In his petition to the soccer association, Ben-Gvir initially wrote: "it was brought to my attention that in the last soccer match of the Hapoel Katamon Jerusalem team, the team's management exchanged the corner flag with the 'pride march' flag, and even published a picture of it to the media."

"This action would be comparable in my eyes to the management of Beitar Jerusalem replacing the corner flag with the Lehava organization," he said, referencing the anti-assimilation group headed by Bentzi Gopshtain that has been often criticized by the media over its fight to maintain Jewish identity.

"I have no doubt how great the measure of shock would be, I have not doubt that in circumstances such as those the association would put the (Beitar) club on trial," he added.