BERLIN - Germany's football federation (DFB) announced Tuesday that it will not tolerate anti-Semitic or racist attacks, after a small group of people verbally abused Israeli player Itay Shechter during a Kaiserslautern training session earlier in the week.
Right-wing extremist soccer hooligans called Israeli soccer player, Itay Shechter, a "dirty Jew" on Sunday. The outbreak of anti-Semitism in the soccer stadium prompted a wave of criticism and coverage in the German media.
incident took place on Sunday, a day after relegation-threatened
Kaiserslautern's 4-0 defeat at Mainz 05 left them in 17th place, level
on points with bottom-placed Freiburg.
A small group of people
attended training, shouted anti-Semitic insults at Schechter and
gestured at him with the Nazi salute. A few hundred fans had met with
players and officials to discuss the club's sporting situation.
with the president we want to underline that the DFB will not tolerate
such actions and we must act decisively," Wolfgang Niersbach, who will
take over from DFB boss Theo Zwanziger next month, told reporters.
"Racism and anti-Semitism have no place in football. We must defend
ourselves against this and we hope that the authorities chase up this
Alex Feuerherdt, a German journalist who reports on anti-Semitism in the field of soccer, told The Jerusalem Post
on Tuesday that "anti-Semitism in German soccer is still a serious
problem. While the number of anti-Semitic and racist incidents in games
in the top German leagues of the Bundesliga as a whole has dropped,
there continues to be anti-Semitic incidents in the second league and in
amateur soccer, particularly in East Germany." He said the word "Jew"
is used with the intention of insult.
According to Feuerherdt,
the "example of Kaiserslautern has now shown that anti-Semitism is an
entirely serious problem at the highest league." Feuerherdt, who
referees German soccer matches, said the German soccer federation (DFB)
stresses that its regional and state clubs are strictly against
anti-Semitism and racism and rigorously act against it. But in practice,
noted Feuerherdt, the federation does too little and its penalties are
too mild." Campaigns against anti-Semitism are not useful when there are
no consequences," he said
According to German media reports on
Monday, the police, who were present on the game, did not eject the
participants due to "deescalation reasons." It is unclear why the police
retreated and did not intervene at the scene of the alleged crime.
German police frequently employ a deescalation strategy to combat
protests. Critics see the tactic as a way to tolerate greater violence
and allow perpetrators to escape prosecution. German journalist
Feuerherdt said it is "completely inexplicable that the police did not
intervene. He said the police should have intervened when the hooligans
called Schechter a "dirty Jew."
Police have launched an
investigation to identify those involved, while the club - which has
called on fans to help identify the people involved - condemned the
incident saying those responsible were not football fans.
players understood the feelings, views and fears of the fans,"
Kaiserslautern chairman Stefan Kuntz said on Tuesday at a meeting with
the Kaiserslautern fans.
"As a conclusion, it is this meeting
with 300 club fans that should be in focus and not the inexcusable
behavior of a handful of radicals," said Kuntz.
Stefan Frank, a German journalist who has written about modern anti-Semitism in the Federal Republic, told The Jerusalem Post
on Tuesday that many of the anti-Semitic slurs and racist comments are
heard not in the stadiums of the professional clubs but on the way to
the stadiums in trains and other forms of public transportation.
noted that rule Number 58 of Fédération Internationale de Football
Association (FIFA) Disciplinary Code, says "anyone who offends the
dignity of a person or group of persons through contemptuous,
discriminatory or denigratory words or actions concerning race, color,
language, religion or origin" can face sanctions.
The display of
Nazi symbols is banned in Germany and there have been growing concerns
since the revelations last November that an extremist right-wing cell
calling itself the Nationalist Socialist Underground lay behind the
killings of 10 people, eight Turks, a Greek and a German policewoman.
Nazi past makes right-wing militancy a particularly sensitive subject
in the country. Experts have long warned of extremism among disenchanted
young people in eastern regions of the country where unemployment is
high and job prospects poor.
"The club's fan representatives want
to distance themselves from any racist, discriminatory or anti-Semitic
comments of any kind," Kaiserslautern fan clubs said in a joint
statement on Tuesday.
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Reuters contributed to this report.