Mary Lou slams Robbie Keane for Israeli football commitments

Mary Lou slams Robbie Keane for Israeli football commitments

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has criticised Ireland's former footballer Robbie Keane for still being the manager of Israeli side Maccabi Tel Aviv amid the ongoing conflict between Palestine and Israel.

The October 7 attacks have reignited the decades-long feud between the countries, resulting in hundreds of thousands of casualties in the conflict. Israel has faced condemnation for its role in the saga, with many political figures calling for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to be tried as a war criminal.

Individuals associated with Israeli businesses and sports clubs have also faced scrutiny for not distancing themselves from the conflict. Robbie Keane, who took the Maccabi Tel Aviv job this year, was one of these people questioned about the position but declined to address the sensitive topic this year, saying, "This is the last time I will say it. I’m here as a football man and someone who loves the game. I will certainly just focus on that."

This week, Keane has faced criticism from Mary Lou McDonald for continuing to manage the Israeli side during the ongoing issue. McDonald, when asked about Ireland's record goal scorer, expressed her disapproval, saying, "No, 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," she said to The Irish Examiner.

"I think sport should be a force for good, for human capacity, human excellence, 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."

McDonald, without specifically naming anyone, highlighted the sportspeople in Ireland who had taken a stand against the conflict and urged those in influential positions who hadn't taken a stand to do so.

"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 of 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."