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Bigotry at Soccer Matches

ADL Letter to

The longstanding prevelence of anti-Semitic outbursts at European soccer matches has been overlooked.

January 8, 2013

Letters to the Editor
The New York Times

To the Editor:

"Soccer Racism Prompts Walkout, and Outrage" (news article, Jan. 5) commendably highlights an ugly element of “the beautiful game.” However, in describing the problem of bigotry in soccer, the article overlooked the longstanding and widespread outbursts of anti-Semitism at matches throughout Europe.

Two typical and recent anti-Semitic incidents involved the Tottenham Hotspur team (the Spurs), whose reputation as a “Jewish” team presumably stems from its home field in a London suburb with a large Jewish community. During a home game in November, opposing fans made Nazi salutes and hissing sounds to connote the gas chambers where Jews were murdered during the Holocaust. At a match in Rome just days earlier, opposing fans chanted “Spurs Jews, Spurs Jews.”

A. C. Milan players should be congratulated for taking a strong stand against racism by walking off the field in protest against the hateful chants directed at Kevin-Prince Boateng last week. Also important were the pledges of official action by the local prosecutor and the public condemnations, including from former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, owner of A. C. Milan, the Italian Bishops’ Conference and the mayor of Busto Arsizio, where the incident occurred.

The reactions by the players and the off-field leaders conveyed the right message: Bigotry has no place in soccer.

Sincerely,
Andrew M. Srulevitch
Director of European Affairs

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