Report to highlight anti-Semitism in European soccer

British MP John Mann presents report highlighting more than 30 examples of anti-Semitism at European soccer matches.

mp john mann 224.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
mp john mann 224.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
More than 30 examples of anti-Semitism at European soccer matches are highlighted in a new report into anti-Semitic incidents in European soccer to be presented by British MP John Mann at a forum in Jerusalem on Sunday. Mann, a Labor MP who chairs the all-party parliamentary group against anti-Semitism, wrote in the report that "the oldest hatred - anti-Semitism - continues to rear its ugly head in football." The report, entitled "Anti-Semitism in football - a scar on the beautiful game," was written by Mann along with English activist Jonny Cohen and will be presented at the Global Forum against Anti-Semitism. While anti-Semitism was seen as a significant problem in soccer during the 1970s, especially in the UK, it has been perceived to have been all but wiped out with the increased professionalism in the sport in recent years. However, Mann stresses in the report that "far-Right thugs and other extremists have attempted to pollute the beautiful game." Last week Chelsea's Israeli manager Avraham Grant was sent a package containing an anti-Semitic message and a white powder with which the sender threatened to kill the former Maccabi Tel Aviv coach. The UK and Poland are the worst offenders, according to the 16-page document, which describes anti-Semitic incidents in 18 countries across Europe. The report notes that "in Polish matches fans routinely call each other 'Jews' as a term of abuse. One example detailed occurred in May 2006 during a Polish cup tie between Stal and Resovia Rzeszow, where "fans of Stal exhibited a huge flag with the motto: "H5N1 - not only one Jew will die" and a banner with a Celtic cross - a racist symbol of white power." Another occurred in Krakow in March 2007, when fans of Legia Warsaw chanted "Jews, Jews, Jews, [the] whole of Poland is ashamed of you." In the UK, the report says, fans of Arsenal chanted "Send the Jews to Auschwitz." The report also details anti-Semitic verbal abuse directed towards Israelis, including chants shouted at national team goalkeeper Dudu Awat of Spanish club Deportivo La Caruna during games against Osasuna, and the assault on Hapoel Tel Aviv fans after the team's win over Ukranian team Chernomorets. The report also details the good work being done to combat anti-Semitism in soccer. Examples include when the Ukranian soccer league fined Dinomo Kiev 5,000 euros after fans of the team directed anti-Semitic insults at opposing fans and when the Italian soccer league forced Roma to replay a match against Livorno in January 2006 when anti-Semitic banners were displayed. In its conclusion the report advises that clubs which do nothing to challenge the behavior of fans should be held to account and league points should be deducted "if the need arises."