Lawyers Call on Martial Arts Federation to Reprimand Lebanese Athlete for Refusing to Compete Against Israeli
by Shiryn Ghermezian
UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLIF) is asking the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) to take action against a young Lebanese athlete who withdrew from a youth martial arts competition earlier in August to avoid going head-to-head with an opponent from Israel.
In an email shared with The Algemeiner from UKLFI Director Sam Green to IMMAF leadership, Green called on the sporting organization to punish Daher for his actions. The group of lawyers said the athlete violated a number of the federation’s rules with his behavior, including IMMAF’s code of ethics, equal opportunities policy and code of conduct.
“Only by taking appropriate action against Mr. Abu Daher, relevant members of the Lebanese delegation to the Championship, and the Lebanese IMMAF, can incidents like this be prevented in future, and prevent the IMMAF being drawn into national and international political issues it has no role in,” Green said in the email.
The IMMAF, which says it maintains “a zero tolerance of discrimination and harassment,” according to its code of ethics, has launched an investigation into Daher’s withdrawal.
The organization will “decide on appropriate actions since this is a matter IMMAF takes extremely seriously,” the group’s Communications Director Izzy Carnwath told The Algemeiner on Friday afternoon.
Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, secretary general of the Hezbollah terrorist organization, praised mixed martial artist Charbel Abou Daher and the Lebanese Mixed Martial Arts Federation, calling the athlete “patriotic” for pulling out of the 2022 IMMAF Youth World Championships in the United Arab Emirates on Aug. 18. Lebanon’s Minister of Youth and Sport George Kallas and the Director General of the Ministry Zaid Khayami also hailed Daher for refusing to compete against a rival from Israel. In a Twitter post, Kallas called Daher a “hero” who “knows how to raise the name of Lebanon and win inside and outside the ring.”
Daher additionally received a hero’s welcome at the Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport when he returned to Lebanon following the competition in the UAE.
Green further criticized the federation, noting how the IMMAF Youth World Championships was “used as an instrument of propaganda in internal Lebanese politics, including being adopted to advance the agenda of a proscribed terror organization.”
Daher’s actions at the championships in Abu Dhabi took place days before young Lebanese chess champion Nadia Fawaz withdrew from the fourth round of the 28th Abu Dhabi International Chess Festival to avoid playing against a competitor from Israel.