What's in a hashtag?What's in a hashtag?

Soccer fans go Gaza for Gazza

Followers of former star English player Paul Gascoigne make a mockery of Twitter trend supporting Palestinians

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Former England soccer player Paul Cascoigne. (screen capture:YouTube/inferno1971)
Former England soccer player Paul Cascoigne. (screen capture:YouTube/inferno1971)

English soccer fans on Twitter have been quick take up a cause close to their hearts: a plea to free Gazza — rather than Gaza — former star player Paul Gascoigne.

As the online debate over Israel’s ongoing military campaign in the Gaza Strip continues, Twitter users have been tagging their posts with the #freeGaza hashtag in a show of support for Palestinians.

However, some soccer fans, whether in error or humor, have been tweeting messages calling for Gascoigne to be set free from whatever trouble it is that he has gotten into, the Daily Mail reported on Wednesday.

The former England national team midfield player has in the past made headlines as he struggled with alcoholism and drug abuse.

“Shame about Paul Cascoigne being arrested again,” one user posted.

Others subtly changed the #freeGaza tag to a #freeGazza label instead along with messages of support.

“I thought the Gaza strip was a row of bars and clubs in Newcastle in honor of Paul Gascoigne,” another wrote, in a reference to the area of north England where Cascoigne was born.

The #freeGaza hashtag has been used by several celebrities in recent weeks, some of whom quickly removed and apologized after fans protested their involvement in such a sensitive political debate.

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