Antisemitism is currently on the rise in European soccer, according to the Anti-Defamation League.
“Just as Jewish individuals and institutions have been targeted with antisemitism during the recent conflict between Israel and Hamas in many European cities, antisemitic incidents have also occurred in European soccer stadiums, and antisemitic vitriol has reached unprecedented levels online,” the ADL said in a report.
While antisemitism has always been prevalent in European soccer, ADL notes that fans have participated in an uptick in antisemitic rhetoric in the form of slogans, chants, songs and online harassment.
Teams that have some sort of Jewish connection tied to their names – such as Ajax of Amsterdam, Tottenham Spurs in the UK and Eintracht Frankfurt of Germany – have had to brave the bulk of the harassment, with fans chanting “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas” toward Ajax, and “Jew, Jew, Eintracht Frankfurt” toward Eintracht.
The latter was chalked up to being a consequence of “tradition,” according to the president of the opposing squad, the Offenback Kickers.
Daniel Levy, chairman of the Tottenham Spurs, and owner of Chelsea FC Roman Abramovich have both been “repeatedly targeted on Twitter with crude antisemitic abuse.”
Tweets targeting Abramovich included: “Roman Abramovich is Jew, stop supporting Chelsea,” and “Jews really run the world. I was surprised to learn that Roman Abramovich is one,” as well as “@premierleague Keep match-fixing for the jew Abramovich.”
“Abramovich has owned Chelsea FC for 18 years, but club officials say that he has never been personally targeted with such vitriol like he is today,” the ADL said. “Nothing happening in the Middle East can excuse such blatant antisemitism.”
Aside from Jewish owners of prominent teams, two-thirds of the players for the Jewish club Makkabi Germany have been the target of antisemitic rhetoric. Chants including “you lousy Jew” and “you should've been gassed” have occurred at 40% of their games.
Margaritas Schinas, vice president of the European Union’s executive branch, said there is no place for antisemitism in European soccer.
“Much work remains to be done to ensure that antisemitism is driven out of European soccer,” the ADL said. “We welcome the efforts of leaders, on and off the field, who are speaking out when incidents occur and who are educating their communities about antisemitism.
“European soccer is known for its intense competition, fierce rivalries, and committed fans. Those great aspects of the sport will shine all the brighter when the stains of antisemitism are erased.”