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Last Updated: Monday, 19 June 2006, 12:40 GMT 13:40 UK
Apology follows Paintsil gesture
Ghana's John Pantsil
Pantsil plays for the Israeli side Hapoel Tel Aviv
The Ghanaian Football Association has apologised after defender John Paintsil waved an Israeli flag to celebrate the World Cup win over the Czech Republic.

Spokesman Randy Abbey said the Ghanaian FA was not taking sides in the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

Paintsil plays in Israel for Hapoel Tel Aviv and wanted to thank the fans who travelled to support him, Abbey said.

"He's unaware of international politics. We apologise to anybody who was offended," said Abbey.

"We promise that it will never happen again.

"He did not act out of malice for the Arab people or in support of Israel. He was naive... we don't need to punish him."

Paintsil celebrated the two Ghana goals on Saturday by taking out a small Israeli flag from his sock and waving it above his head.

Abbey said neither the Ghanaian FA nor Ghana as a country had a strong political position on the subject and said they were just in Germany for the World Cup.

"We are not in support or against Israel or the Arab nations. We are here to do football, we are not here to do politics."

A spokesman for Fifa had said they had no problem with the gesture.

Israel's Sports Minister Ofir Pines-Paz had been quoted as praising Paintsil for his actions and saying Ghana had gained many Israeli fans.

"We have an Israeli at the World Cup. Paintsil's gesture has warmed our hearts and many Israelis have now become supporters of Ghana," Paz said.

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