English professional football club Leeds United printed a declaration concerning antisemitism on their matchday program for Sunday’s matchup against Leicester City.
The declaration was printed on the matchday program, a document which highlights the match’s lineups and relevant match details, and condemned the acts of antisemitism that have grown in frequency at English Premier League matches.
Well done Leeds for including this in the matchday programme today. I was genuinely surprised to see it! Disgusting antisemitic abuse doesn't get as much condemnation it should do. As a Jewish person reading this in the programme of the club I adore, I am grateful. pic.twitter.com/U6eDl7yLie— jessica (@leaguelyblonde) November 7, 2021
“Discriminatory actions or language have no place anywhere in football or society and everyone associated with Leeds United is proud to be a part of an inclusive and diverse club,” the statement read. “We want to ensure that everyone feels safe and valued at all times.”
The declaration also retorted against Jewish fans who use potentially antisemitic language as a term of endearment. “A small minority of fanbases have in the past tarnished some fixtures by using antisemitic chanting, noises and gestures – offering justification of opposition fans using specific terms as a form of identity,” said the club in an apparent reference to Tottenham Hotspur’s Jewish supporters who colloquially refer to themselves as the “yid army” – a play on the Yiddish phrase “Yid,” which roughly means “Jew.” Opposing fans have been documented using the term derogatorily against self-proclaimed “yids.”
The statement of support comes as instances of antisemitism have risen in English Premier League play. Just last Friday, a video was published on social media showing a number of West Ham FC fans chanting "we've got foreskin, haven't you" and “Tottenham get battered everywhere they go” at a haredi (ultra-Orthodox) man who boarded a flight they were on. A Chelsea FC fan – Nathan Blagg, 21 – pleaded guilty in court to seven counts of sending antisemitic messages between September 2020 and February 2021.
“We would like to urge all of our supporters to think about the words they use and show their support in the right way,” the statement highlighted.
The rise in antisemitism on the pitch is not exclusive to the United Kingdom. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) released a report last June in the midst of Israel and Hamas’s most recent clashes. In particularly egregious incidents, 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.
“Much work remains to be done to ensure that antisemitism is driven out of European soccer,” the ADL concluded.