European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor said that he was appalled by the lack of reaction by the authorities to recent anti-Semitic incidents in European soccer, after a municipal prosecutor in the Polish city of Poznan concluded that chants by soccer fans which made reference to Jews going to the Auschwitz gas chambers were not anti-Semitic.
“Unfortunately, extreme anti-Semitic chants like those in Poznan are regularly heard in many European stadiums, including in England and Holland, and the reaction of the authorities is minimal,” Kantor said. “This coupled with the inaction of the clubs involved, UEFA and the Football Association (FA) in England over the Quenelle, demonstrates that anti-Semitism has become the last acceptable prejudice in football. We have seen quick condemnation, bans and major fines when other minorities are attacked by players and fans in Europe, but barely a whimper is heard when Jews are subject to attack.”
Two weeks ago, Kantor wrote to Greg Dyke, chairman of FA, and to Michel Platini, president of the European soccer federation UEFA, calling on them to take action in the wake of the recent Quenelle salute made by Nicolas Anelka. The EJC offered its assistance to discuss practical ideas and suggestions for combating anti-Semitism and racism in football, but have yet to receive a response from either association. “It has been over two weeks since Anelka’s offensive salute and it is completely clear to all that the gesture was designed to offend Jews by an unrepentant anti-Semite and Holocaust-denier,” Kantor said. “The silence on behalf of the football authorities compounds the original offense by Anelka and if it is not harshly dealt with, it will be seen as implicit acceptance of this anti-Semitic affront.”
He added: “We heard that there will be an investigation into the incident but have yet to hear any details about who will be involved, when will a status be provided and even what the mandate of the investigation will be. The process up until now does not fill us with any degree of confidence.”
The EJC leader also expressed disappointment over the reaction of organizations created specifically to combat racism and intolerance in football, such as Let’s Kick Racism Out of Football and Football Against Racism in Europe, who have not condemned the ‘quenelle’ and other recent acts of anti-Semitism in and around football stadiums. “These organizations are usually very vocal when a minority is attacked, but have been very publicly silent when Jews have been subject to attack,” Kantor declared, calling on them “to be as vocal when Jews are subject to attack and work with the EJC to stamp anti-Semitism out of football once and for all.”