Phoenix coach Ufuk Talay has distanced himself from Israeli striker Tomer Hemed's goal celebrations in last night's match, although he admitted he expects the A-League and their club to review it.
Hemed appeared to make political statements after scoring twice in last night's 2-2 draw with Melbourne City, draping himself in an Israel flag after his first goal before pulling out a Jewish kippah from inside his shirt after slotting a late equaliser.
It comes as Israel and Palestine are currently tied up in a violent conflict in Gaza which has killed over 140 people so far.
Hemed was yellow-carded for the second celebration — a moment Talay told reporters, pressing him about the gestures, that he didn't see.
"It's hard for me to comment on at the end of the day," Talay said.
"You can ask me what you want but I can't comment on it."
Hemed dedicated his man-of-the-match performance to his home country in a social media post afterwards.
“This game is dedicated to you my dear country. My heart is with you. May the peace return soon amen,” Hemed said.
Talay said he expects the incidents to be examined.
"I'm sure we’ll look at it as a club and the federation will look at it as well, but at the end of the day I can’t control once the players are out on the field what they do.”
One factor of Hemed's evening Talay would talk about, though, was his impact with his brace helping the Phoenix secure a point against the league leaders on the road.
"He's a different player for us. He gives us that presence up top that we need," Talay said.
"He scored from the penalty and I thought the second goal was a good goal as well.
"He's an important player for us, especially tonight when we were missing two very important players. It’s great that he stepped up."
The Phoenix arrive back in New Zealand this afternoon after spending the start of the season based in Australia due to the Covid-19 pandemic. With the trans-Tasman bubble established, the team are now able to play games at their home in Wellington.