WJC: Ingen plats för antisemitism i sport

Judiska världskongressens ordförande Robert R. Singer skriver i Jerusalem Post om antisemitism i sport:

”Antisemitism in sports is hardly a new phenomenon, but it has begun to draw major attention of late, due to a resurgence of ugly incidents and a growing awareness that xenophobia and hatred are on the rise, across the field.

We routinely witness fans shamelessly desecrating the memory of Holocaust victims or shouting blatantly anti-Jewish slurs, simply to offend their rivals.

But these demonstrations carry heavy weight, and signify a much more complex problem in desperate need of forceful corrective action. Far too often, intolerance darkens what should be a celebration of competitive spirit, and spirals into hateful violence, both in and out of the stands.

The World Jewish Congress has made a pointed effort to address this phenomenon in recent years, through diplomatic and educational means, and while we have met some play-by-play successes, it has become ever clearer that the fight must come from inside the stadium.

Chelsea F.C., and its owner Roman Abramovich, have taken a welcome lead in tackling this issue headon, to make clear to their extended community that expressions of hatred have no place in sports and that antisemitism must be recognized as a unique issue deserving of strong, tailor-made action. The football club drew a red line last autumn after the repeated use of gleeful and crass anti-Jewish slurs drew widespread rebuke, and by mid-January announced that it would launch an ambitious educational campaign to “say no to antisemitism,” partnering with Jewish organizations including the WJC to develop a comprehensive program to strike directly at the issue.

Its zero-tolerance approach is already making waves: just a week after officially launching its campaign on January 31 during a Premier League match at Stamford Bridge in the presence of 40,000 fans, Chelsea F.C. responded to renewed antisemitic chants by vowing to take action – including outright bans – against fans guilty of using that language.

 Such manifestations extend beyond Stamford Bridge, of course, and require wide action by all parties involved. Tottenham Hotspur F.C., for example, is frequently targeted by rivals fans with the antisemitic slur “Yid” to shame its largely Jewish supporter base, coupled with chants about Auschwitz, Hitler gassing Jews, and hisses during games to resemble the sound of emitted gas; Dutch football fans have used pictures Jewish children murdered by Nazis to taunt rivals in Ajax, a team associated with the long-established Jewish community in Amsterdam; and last October, fans of Lazio F.C. posted stickers of Anne Frank wearing an A.S. Roma jersey on the walls of their rivals’ stadium, in the latest of a long stream of incidents plaguing the team.”

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