The Euroleague has strongly denounced the deluge of anti-Semitic Twitter messages posted after Maccabi Tel Aviv’s win over Real Madrid in the competition’s final on Sunday.
Jewish associations in Spain’s northeastern region of Catalonia plan to file a legal complaint after recording nearly 18,000 offensive messages posted after the game on the social networking site by supporters of the Spanish side, the Spanish daily El País reported on Tuesday.
The Euroleague was quick to release a statement decrying the anti-Semitic comments.
“Euroleague Basketball wishes to express its complete condemnation of racist, discriminatory comments made mostly through social media following Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv’s victory,” the statement read.
“The Euroleague... celebrates a diversity of languages, cultures, races and religions while promoting sport in general and basketball in particular as a tool for the union and integration of its communities. Euroleague Basketball will collaborate with the relevant authorities in any way possible in order to eliminate such discriminatory behavior.”
Spiteful messages on the micro-blogging platform referring to Hitler and the Nazi treatment of the Jews during the Holocaust prompted the launch of the lawsuit.
“Now I understand hitler [sic] and his hate for the Jews...,” in the words of one angry Twitter user.
“They should all be killed in an oven,” read another post.
Sources from the Jewish community were slated to file a complaint to the Barcelona state attorney on Tuesday, according to El País
. “When we saw reactions to Maccabi’s victory, such as ‘Jews to the oven’ or ‘Jews to the showers,’ we decided to lodge this judicial complaint,” Israel in Catalonia group member Ruben Noboa told AFP.
The complaint was due to cite the full names of five identified Twitter users and their posts, which the Jewish groups argue constituted the incitement of anti-Semitism.
“The majority of the remainder of the messages were anonymous,” Jai Anguita, the president of Catalonia’s Bet Shalom Jewish community center, told El País
“We could say that these comments come from the high spirits after a [sporting] defeat, that they are almost jokes… But history has shown us where these jokes can lead,” Anguita said.
On Wednesday, Maccabi Tel Aviv released a statement expressing “its shock and disappointment at the hurtful discriminatory comments made on social media networks…The joy and elation shared throughout Israel and the Jewish world in the wake of Maccabi’s Euroleague championship was not just a celebration of basketball excellence, but a celebration of the triumph of Maccabi’s core values.
“Israel’s emergence as a global basketball hub is anchored in its affirmation that regardless of race, religion or nationality, communities can unite around a shared passion for the game we love,” the statement read.
Maccabi Tel Aviv President Shimon Mizrahi said that “Maccabi Tel Aviv takes great pride in its role as global ambassadors for the State of Israel and the Jewish people. The hateful remarks we have seen this week, and the subsequent global condemnation of them, serve both as a reminder of how far we have come in the fight against ignorance and racism, and how far we still must go.”