Belgian police are investigating videos circulating on social media which appeared to show a group of soccer fans in Antwerp giving Nazi salutes and shouting antisemitic slogans and chants that included references to Hamas and to gassing and burning Jews.

According to the local newspaper which reported the incident, it took place at a restaurant near the soccer stadium and involved fans of Antwerp’s Beerschot team.

In an unrelated development, the Royal Belgian Soccer Association fined Brugge soccer team, Club Brugge, around £2,000 for antisemitic chants heard at three recent matches. Fans of the club were heard shouting “Whoever doesn’t jump is a Jew.”

Antisemitic soccer chants occur regularly where the fans of certain teams perceive the rival team as having strong Jewish support or links to the Jewish community, such as Amsterdam’s Ajax and Britain’s Tottenham Hotspur. There are times, however, that the soccer chants have also been heard outside the context of sports, including at a graduation party of high school students in the Netherlands.

Campaign Against Antisemitism has expanded our coverage of antisemitism worldwide. Please contact us if you would like to share feedback or volunteer to assist with this project. 

The sports broadcaster Abbi Grace Summers confronted a West Ham football fan who hurled antisemitic abuse at her on a train to a game between the Hammers and Tottenham Hotspur.

The abuse took place on a London Underground train on 22nd December.

Footage from a video, which went viral online, showed Ms Summers accusing the West Ham fan of shouting antisemitic abuse at her, which was not caught on camera. The man smirks at her as she invites him to “say it to my face.”

Ms Summers tweeted the video to the police, writing: “Hi @metpoliceuk would like to report an incident on the 18:45 train from Liverpool Street to White Hart Lane. This man continuously shouting antisemitic comments and behaviour and clearly not sorry when called up on…[sic].”

Speaking the next day on the radio, Ms Summers said that she is “all for football banter…but it suddenly turned antisemitic.” She said that it is a “line that you don’t have to cross.” She also observed that nobody in the train carriage said anything in reaction to the abuse, noting that “I was the only woman on that carriage and I took a stand against it.” She added: “It’s sad we can’t govern ourselves, it was unfortunate no one else stood up.”

A spokesperson for the British Transport Police said: “British Transport Police received a report of antisemitic behaviour onboard a London Overground train travelling from Liverpool Street to White Hart Lane yesterday evening (22 December). Witnesses or anyone with information can contact us by texting 61016 or by calling 0800 40 50 40 quoting reference 433 of 22/12/21.”

Recently, three West Ham fans were arrested after a video surfaced of West Ham fans allegedly chanting an antisemitic song at a Hasidic passenger on a flight to a match.

Campaign Against Antisemitism has launched a new weekly podcast. New episodes of Podcast Against Antisemitism are available every Thursday and can be streamed here or downloaded wherever you get your podcasts.

Celtic FC has reportedly refused to state whether the antisemitism investigation that the club promised to undertake in January has begun or not.

The club promised an investigation to Scottish Jewish leaders after Celtic fans unleashed a torrent of abuse at the club’s Israeli midfielder after a loss to rival Rangers.

Nir Bitton was called a “dirty Jew bastard” and a “Zionist rat” on social media after receiving a red card in the match. His wife also revealed that she has been subjected to abuse, including calls for her and her husband to be “hanged”. One post said: “Here you ya cow, you and yer husband deserve tae be hung on the streets. F**k you and yer wains.”

Their two children have also reportedly had abuse directed at them as well.

This is not the first time that Mr Bitton has disclosed the abuse he suffers from some of the club’s fans; in 2016 the police launched an investigation after a Celtic fan said that Mr Bitton should be gassed.

It is also not Celtic’s first brush with controversy over Jews or Israel, having been sanctioned by UEFA in the past over persistent problems. In the Scottish FA Cup final in 2016, for example, fans displayed a banner reading “end Zionism”. A Jewish former director of the club was also subjected to abuse by fans, including “Get this Ashkenazi c*** out of OUR club and take that other fake jew p**** Bitton with him [sic]”, and “He’s a Jew what do you expect”.

At the time, a spokesperson for Celtic FC said that it has passed its fans’ “vile” comments to Police Scotland and called for those responsible to be identified, adding that “all appropriate action should be taken”. The spokesperson added that “those responsible for such vile comments do not represent Celtic or Celtic supporters. They are faceless and nameless.”

However, there have reportedly been no confirmations as to whether such action has been taken yet. 

Jordan Allison, Campaign Manager for Show Racism the Red Card said: “The problem we have in Scottish football is that these incidents are not being documented enough. The victims don’t feel confident enough to report it to police or stewards. In turn, the stewards are not trained in how to record it as a form of racism. There’s far more work to be done.  We are so far behind in Scotland that the authorities are not at the stage yet where they can do something about it.” 

The Premier League has adopted the International Definition of Antisemitism.

Campaign Against Antisemitism recently produced an Instagram post detailing recent incidents of antisemitism in football. 

Campaign Against Antisemitism has launched a new weekly podcast. New episodes of Podcast Against Antisemitism are available every Thursday and can be streamed here or downloaded wherever you get your podcasts. 

The former England striker Carlton Cole has apologised after he described a poor football performance as “a Holocaust” during an interview on BBC Radio 5 Live.

Speaking on West Ham boss David Moyes and whether he had chosen a defensive side against Manchester City, Mr Cole said: “You can say he has gone a bit negative. Why not? You’ve got to give Man City some respect otherwise you’re going to get picked off. Otherwise it will be a Holocaust and you don’t want that.”

Later during the programme, Mr Cole said: “I’d just like to apologise to the listeners for a totally unacceptable phrase that I used earlier in the show. I’m sorry if I’ve offended anybody, really and truly. Sorry.”

This is not the first time a Holocaust reference has been made in the context of describing a poor performance.

In October, Joey Barton, the former football player and current manager of Bristol Rovers Football Club, issued an apology after he also described a bad football performance as “a Holocaust”.

Reacting to Bristol Rovers’ loss to Newport County, Mr Barton said: “I said to the lads during the week, you know, the team’s almost like musical chairs, you know. Someone gets in and does well, but then gets suspended. Someone gets in and does well, gets injured. Someone gets in, does well for a game and then has a Holocaust, a nightmare, you know, an absolute disaster.”

Mr Barton later apologised, stating: “Clearly no offence was meant, but some people have rightly pointed out to me the use of the analogy was not correct. So if anybody was offended by that, I would like to apologise for that. I think the FA were right to write to me and remind me of that. You hope to use better analogies in future, but it was certainly with no malice or offence intended to anybody.”

In 2019, football pundit and former footballer, Perry Groves, apologised after reportedly describing a player as having “a Holocaust of a game” on a live radio show. One year earlier, Phil Brown, the football player turned manager, apologised for using the same phrase.

Campaign Against Antisemitism’s Director of Investigations and Enforcement, Stephen Silverman, joined the cricketer Azeem Rafiq on a tour of the Jewish Museum, organised by the JC, with a Holocaust survivor.

Mr Rafiq recently highlighted the problem of racial abuse in cricket before it emerged that he had made antisemitic comments when he was nineteen.

The thirty-year-old former Yorkshire cricketer has been praised for exposing racism in the sport, including during his tearful testimony at a hearing of the House of Commons’ Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, where he said that racism destroyed his career.

But he then had to apologise after it was revealed that he and former Leicestershire cricketer Ateeq Javid, in an apparent discussion about another professional cricketer, appeared to accuse the latter of being reluctant to spend money on a meal out because “he is a Jew”. Mr Rafiq joked that he will “probs go after my 2nds again ha…Only Jews do tht sort of shit [sic].”

Mr Rafiq has since apologised and looked to learn more about anti-Jewish racism. In a JC-organised tour of the Jewish Museum, Mr Rafiq was accompanied by Holocaust survivor Ruth Barnett and Mr Silverman, who explained the history of the antisemitic trope of Jews and money and why Mr Rafiq’s historic remarks had been so hurtful.

Mr Silverman also told Mr Rafiq of his own experiences of being teased and insulted as a child because he was Jewish: “It was always two things, either ‘you killed Christ’ or comments about Jews and money. The word ‘Jew’ used as an insult was a constant soundtrack.” Mr Silverman added that “Forty years later, my daughter joined the same school. And she experienced exactly the same antisemitism.”

Mr Rafiq said: “Racism can be subtle and discreet. It breaks you slowly. I was constantly asking myself if I was being too sensitive, if it was only a joke. Now that I’ve learned about the history of my comments, I understand the hurt and I’m really sorry to the Jewish community.”

Campaign Against Antisemitism continues to act against instances of anti-Jewish racism in all sports.

Image credit: Rick Findler