The Shmooze

German Soccer Marred By Anti-Semitism

By Renee Ghert-Zand

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Itay Shechter

Soccer hooligans called Israeli soccer player Itay Shechter a “dirty Jew” and made the Nazi salute at him during a training session for the Kaiserslautern team in southwest Germany on Sunday, prompting an outcry in the German media against anti-Semitism in German football.

Although DFB, Germany’s national football association, condemned the incident and said it does not tolerate any kind of racism in the sport, it was reported that police and security personnel are reluctant to eject people making anti-Semitic remarks from the stadium. The media criticized the police’s inaction as part of a “deescalation” strategy, and journalist Alex Feuerherdt, who covers anti-Semitism in German soccer said it was “completely inexplicable that the police did not intervene” the minute the hooligans began calling Shechter a “dirty Jew.”

Feuerherdt told the Jerusalem Post, “Anti-Semitism in German soccer is still a serious problem. While the number of anti-Semitic and racist incidents in games in the top German leagues of the Bundesliga as a whole has dropped, there continues to be anti-Semitic incidents in the second league and in amateur soccer, particularly in East Germany…[The] example of Kaiserslautern has now shown that anti-Semitism is an entirely serious problem at the highest league.” Others who cover German soccer have reported that in addition to anti-Semitic displays in the stadium, anti-Semitic and other racist slurs are heard on public transportation to and from games.

Rule Number 58 of Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) Disciplinary Code states that “anyone who offends the dignity of a person or group of persons through contemptuous, discriminatory or denigrating words or actions concerning race, color, language, religion or origin” can face sanctions. It is yet to be seen whether German football officials and legal authorities will fully enforce it.


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