Israel joins European leagues in battle against the soccer bigots
FOOTBALL NEWIsrael Fund’s Let’s Kick Racism Out of Israeli Football held anti-racism pre-match events before all of Israel’s Premier League matches last weekend.
The events were within the framework of those held in 38 countries across Europe by Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE). The central event before the match featuring Betar Jerusalem and Maccabi Tel Aviv at Jerusalem’s Teddy Stadium was attended by Patrick Gasser, Uefa’s Director of Social Responsibility and a personal emissary of Michel Platini.
Balloons carrying the slogan “Kick Racism out of Football” were released into the air and the players’ shirts carried the FARE and Kick Racism out of Football logo.
The Swiss-based Mr Gasser told JC Sport that while he knew “Betar supporters have a certain reputation” for racist chanting — the right-wing Jerusalem crowd is infamous for its calls of “Death to Arabs” — he said he did not feel he had enough knowledge about the Israeli soccer scene to make any detailed comment, although he did add: “I know they [the IFA] have been working on it for the past three to four years”.
Mr Gasser said Uefa was happy to team up with the FARE initiative, noting that “racism is a problem in society and we at UEFA want to fight it through football”. He said Uefa had a strategic partnership with FARE, and through them, non-government organisations such as the New Israel Fund, to help fight racism on the local level.
Betar won 2-0 to extend their lead at the top of Israel’s Premier League to three points while Maccabi are firmly rooted to the bottom.