Algerian international soccer player Youcef Atal, who plays for French club OGC Nice, has faced significant legal repercussions due to a social media post related to the Israel-Gaza conflict. Atal was handed an 8-month suspended prison sentence and a fine of €45,000 (approximately $49,000) following a repost that was deemed to provoke hatred on religious grounds.
This decision, announced in a statement by a court in Nice on Wednesday, underscores the growing scrutiny of public figures' online behavior, especially regarding sensitive political issues. The repost, which occurred the day after the Hamas attack on October 7, involved a video by a Palestinian preacher.
The content of this video, as reported by the French newspaper Nice-Matin and Reuters, featured a call for “a black day over the Jews”. The court's judgment highlighted the severity of the repercussions that can follow from sharing such content, even when not originally authored by the sharer.
Apology and Club's Response
Following the backlash, Atal, 27, promptly removed the post and issued a public apology. On his Instagram, he stated, “I am aware that my post shocked many people, which wasn’t my intention, and I apologise”.Despite this, his club, OGC Nice, which is second in the Ligue 1 table, decided to suspend him for the repost. The club, while acknowledging Atal's acknowledgment of his error and his subsequent apology, emphasized the gravity of the shared content and its serious implications.
OGC Nice, in a statement, detailed the process and reasoning behind its decision to discipline Atal. The club highlighted the immediate steps it took, including a conversation with Atal upon his return from national team duty.
CNN has reached out to OGC Nice for further comments regarding the suspended sentence and fine imposed on Atal.
Sporting Future Amid Controversy
Despite the controversy and legal challenges, Atal has been named in Algeria’s squad for the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast.
This inclusion, as published by the Confederation of African Football, suggests that his sporting career continues to progress, although under the cloud of recent events.