The Austrian Football Association (OFB) and the Austrian Football League formally adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition on antisemitism on Thursday.
The document was signed by the main bodies representing Austrian football during a ceremony at the Judenplatz in Vienna attended by Vice-Chancellor of Austria Werner Kogler, Minister for the EU and the Constitution Karoline Edtstadler, ÖFB president Gerhard Milletich, and the president of the Jewish community of Vienna Oskar Deutsch.
Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai and Oren Hasson, president of the Israeli Football Association, were also present at the event.
The signing of the working definition took place ahead of a World Cup qualifying match between Israel and Austria in Klagenfurth scheduled for Friday.
Milletich said that the association “stands for respect, tolerance and integration in all areas of society,” and that it seeks to create a culture where all communities are treated with respect.
“Football has a strong integrative power that we use to stand up for our values and to take a resolute stand against antisemitism and racism in all forms,” he said.
Deutsch welcomed OFB’s step, saying that both the association and the football league had immediately agreed to adopt the IHRA definition the moment they were approached on it.
“Due to the reach of football and the players’ function as role models for many, this adoption is of special relevance for our fight against antisemitism,” said Deutsch. “Together, we will pursue activities with fans as well as football-amateurs to fight antisemitism on every level.”
Coinciding with this step by the Austria Football Association, the Chelsea FC Foundation together with the Jewish Community of Vienna, the Office of the UK Government’s independent adviser on antisemitism Lord John Mann, and the International Coalition for Combating Antisemitism cohosted a one-day “Global Conference on Football’s Role in Combating Antisemitism.”
“Four years ago, our club owner, Roman Abramovich, initiated Chelsea’s global campaign against antisemitism, and whilst we see the positive effects these efforts have had, we know more needs to be done,” said Chelsea FC Chairman Bruce Buck.
The IHRA definition of antisemitism has been adopted by 29 countries, the EU, and numerous local governments and institutions around the world, as a way to clearly define antisemitism in order to accurately monitor its prevalence.
Separately, the European Commission coordinator on combating antisemitism and fostering Jewish life, Katharina von Schnurbein, was awarded the Marietta und Friedrich Torberg-Medaille, the highest honor of the Jewish community in Vienna.
“I am grateful to have been given the opportunity and all the necessary tools by the European Commission for this work, and I share this award with all those who have supported me,” she said. “The newly adopted [EU] strategy on antisemitism is our pledge for a safe and secure society for all Jewish citizens, in Europe and beyond, and I look forward to cooperating with the member states, the Jewish community and civil society organizations for its implementation. Europe can only prosper when the Jewish community prospers too.”