Australian Jewish org. calls to ban fans who performed Nazi salute

This behavior was specifically targeted at the field during the "Welcome to Country" ceremony at the beginning of the game.

 An Australian flag is seen hung in a tree burnt by bushfire on the property of farmer Jeff McCole in Buchan, Victoria, Australia (photo credit: REUTERS/ANDREW KELLY)
An Australian flag is seen hung in a tree burnt by bushfire on the property of farmer Jeff McCole in Buchan, Victoria, Australia
(photo credit: REUTERS/ANDREW KELLY)

The New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies called on Football Australia on Sunday to declare lifetime bans for fans that displayed Nazi salutes and symbols during the Australia Cup final on Saturday night, according to CNN.

"Football Australia acknowledges and strongly condemns the actions of a small minority of individuals who engaged in behaviour that is not consistent with Football Australia’s values and wider community expectations."

Football Australia official statement

This behavior was specifically targeted at the field during the "Welcome to Country" ceremony at the beginning of the game. CNN further reports that eight people were removed from the stadium following these events. 

Welcome to Country is an Australian indigenous ceremony, which, according to the National Indigenous Australians Agency, is an acknowledgement of the land, and "is usually delivered as part of Welcome and Housekeeping at meetings and events. It should be delivered at significant/large internal meetings or meetings with external participants e.g. branch meetings, inter-departmental meetings etc."

There are many versions of the ritual for different occasions. Notably, only an indigenous Australian person can perform a Welcome to Country. If none are present, someone may perform an Acknowledgement of Country instead. 

 The Nazi swastika drawn onto a soccer field in Australia (credit: ANTI-DEFAMATION COMMISSION) The Nazi swastika drawn onto a soccer field in Australia (credit: ANTI-DEFAMATION COMMISSION)

Football Australia condemnation 

Football Australia (FA) promptly released a statement which, among other things, said that "Football Australia acknowledges and strongly condemns the actions of a small minority of individuals who engaged in behaviour that is not consistent with Football Australia’s values and wider community expectations."  This was accompanied by a Tweet stating that "football is for all, where there is absolutely no place for anti-social behaviour in our game. "

The FA statement was accompanied by a statement from Jade North, the chair of NATO's National Indigenous Advisory Group (NIAG) echoing FA's condemnation and asserting that "Football Australia’s National Indigenous Advisory Group has a crucial role to play in this journey and we remain resolute in our mission. We will continue to advise Football Australia through the investigation process."

Antisemitism in European soccer 

The events of Saturday night come less than a month after similar events unfolded in Italy. In September, a group of Croatian soccer fans were seen marching the streets of Milan displaying the Nazi salute before a game.

Eastern European English-language media source Balkan Insight reported at the time that fans of Eintracht Frankfurt also gave Nazi salutes while their team played against Marseille.