Think Arsenal, Think Israel, but don't think Cyprus or any other national symbol
Late last year there was a controversy at the Emirates Stadium in London where Arsenal play their home games. Mete Ahmed was flying a flag of the internationally unrecognised Turish Republic of Northern Cyprus. This upset a lot of people, as Greek Cypriots find the flag offensive as a symbol of the division of the island, and there was a campaign to stop it being flown.
At first Arsenal reasonably said that the politics of the situation were nothing to do with them, that they valued support from both sides of the last divided island in Europe, and that since it was not technically illegal to fly the flag they would take no action.
Personally I believe that was the right thing to do. I understand that the division of the island is an emotional topic for people on both sides of the island, and also in Greece and in Turkey. Having lived in Greece and visited Cyprus several times I've also met and spoken to people affected by the conflict.
In the face of mounting criticism from Greek Cypriots though, Arsenal changed their policy, and asked that supporters (incluing away fans) no longer brought flags symbolising any nation into the ground. Not only did it stop Mete Ahmed bringing his TRNC flag into the ground, it also stopped anyone in the UK bringing in an English, Scottish, Welsh or British flag.
So having taken such a strong stand against flags because of the potential offence caused by the display of a national symbol, I was astonished on Sunday to see that Arsenal had decided to accept video advertising from one side of one of the most disputed territories in the world.
In Arsenal's Emirates Stadium you can't fly a flag from the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus or the EU member state Republic of Cyprus. You can't fly a flag from Spain or France or the Basque Country. You can't fly a flag from Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland. And you can't fly an Israeli or Palestinian flag. But you can advertise "Jerusalem - Think Israel.com" on your electronic billboards throughout a Premiership match.
Perhaps Arsenal could consider extending their policy that national symbols in disputed territories might cause offence from just affecting their paying fans to include their advertising sales department as well?