Woman Brings Palestinian Flag to Israel-Honduras Soccer Game, Controversy Erupts
Buthayna Hammad, who identifies herself as a Palestinian-American, brought a Palestinian flag to a soccer match between Honduras and Israel at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Tx, on June 1.
Hammad was removed from her seat about fifteen minutes into the game by BBVA Compass Stadium Security Manager Nathan Buchanan, four police officers and three stadium security guards.
Houston Dynamo (owner of BBVA Compass Stadium) spokesperson Gina Rotolo told Free Press Houston, "The decision to not allow the Palestinian flag to be displayed during the game was based on the sole intention of maintaining the safety of those in attendance. The flag bearer was instigating the crowd, and we felt it was important to diffuse a potentially volatile situation as emotions began to escalate."
"This patron instigated the crowd by waving the Palestinian flag in front of Israeli supporters. Given that her actions caused emotions to escalate, the appropriate course of action, in our eyes, was to ask her to please refrain from waving the flag."
There was no Palestinian team playing, but Hammad said she went to the game with her "alt family from Honduras," including her Honduran boyfriend.
"I wore a Honduras jersey and was eager to cheer on this team, dressed to represent Honduras," Hammad told Free Press Houston. "To represent my own heritage as a Palestinian-American, I also brought my Palestinian flag."
Hammad claims that Buchanan told her that she was "not allowed to carry this flag because it implies a 'racial slur' and it is a BBVA Compass Stadium violation."
Hammad also claims that Honduras fans were yelling “f-----” and “mother-----” at Israeli fans, and there was a fight between an Israel fan and a Honduras fan, but none of those people were removed.
Hammad told the Houston Press that Buchanan allowed her to return to her seat and keep her flag, but said she could not wave it.
"While I want to avoid the politics of the situation, it is difficult to do, but I have cousins who have immigrated to Honduras from Palestine and they were very welcomed there, so there is a love for Honduras in that sense," said Hammad. "My intention was to represent myself and Honduras It happens. It is an international sport, and people fly their nation's flag to represent their support for the team they are cheering on."