Campaign Against Antisemitism has called on Ryanair to help West Ham FC identify and ban fans who were filmed chanting an antisemitic song at a Hasidic passenger on a flight to a match.
The West Ham supporters were on a flight to Belgium where their club was playing KRC Genk. On the flight out, fans were filmed chanting “I’ve got a foreskin haven’t you, f***ing Jew” at a Hasidic fellow passenger.
This is not the first time that West Ham fans have been documented singing this antisemitic chant, or indeed engaging in other antisemitic abuse. Almost every year there is an incident related to antisemitism involving individual supporters or groups of fans of West Ham.
In 2016, two fans were convicted under the Crime and Disorder Act of racially aggravated harassment alarm and distress for singing antisemitic football songs on a train in 2015. British Transport Police issued an appeal for witnesses, which Campaign Against Antisemitism and others circulated widely.
In 2017, a Jewish man and his non-Jewish female companion were subjected to horrific antisemitic abuse by fans of West Ham on the London Underground.
In 2019, the club banned one supporter for life after video footage emerged apparently showing fans singing antisemitic chants in a game early in the 2018-19 football season.
Also that year, West Ham pledged to ban for life any fans that it identifies from a video in which football thugs can be heard chanting on public transport: “We’ll be running around Tottenham with our willies hanging out, singing ‘I’ve got a foreskin, haven’t you, f***ing Jew’.” Tottenham Hotspur has traditionally enjoyed the support of a large number of Jewish football fans.
Earlier this year, West Ham’s message on Facebook wishing the Jewish community a happy new year was inundated with negative – and in some cases explicitly antisemitic – responses, which the club has yet to take down.
Regarding this latest incident on the flight, a West Ham spokesperson has said in a statement: “West Ham United is appalled by the contents of the video circulating on social media and condemn the behaviour of the individuals involved. The club is liaising with the airline and relevant authorities to identify the individuals. We continue to be unequivocal in our stance – we have a zero-tolerance approach to any form of discrimination. Any individuals identified will be issued with an indefinite ban from the club. Equality, diversity and inclusion are at the heart of the football club and we do not welcome any individuals who do not share those values.”
A spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism said: “This is not the first time a minority of West Ham supporters have engaged in grotesque antisemitic abuse. Ryanair must explain what its crew did to protect the Jewish victim and disclose whether it has alerted the police. The airline must also assist West Ham to identify the supporters so that the club can fulfil its pledge to ban these fans for life. Football clubs have long said the right things about kicking racism out of the football, and here is an opportunity to translate those promises into action.”