‘Dock points for soc­cer an­tisemitism’

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY DAN­NY­CARO SPORTS ED­I­TOR

COM­MU­NAL LEAD­ERS and foot­ball bosses have wel­comed a new zero-tol­er­ance pol­icy against fans who en­gage in an­tisemitic or Is­lam­o­pho­bic abuse.

The dra­matic ini­tia­tive — which in­cludes the pos­si­bil­ity of English clubs be­ing docked points — came as the FA, the Metropoli­tan Po­lice, the Board of Deputies and the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Mus­lim Po­lice at­tended foot­ball’s first faith sum­mit aimed at tack­ling racism on the ter­races and near grounds.

At the sum­mit, held in West Lon­don and­host­ed­byBBCp­re­sen­terRayS­tubbs, the sug­ges­tion that clubs should have points docked if their fans in­dulge in racist abuse was made by sev­eral par­tic­i­pants.

Si­mon John­son, the FA’s di­rec­tor of cor­po­rate af­fairs told the sum­mit: “The FA fo­cuses on en­sur­ing all forms of dis­crim­i­na­tion are erad­i­cated from the game, but I am not con­vinced that each club is do­ing as much as it can. There is no lack of will­ing­ness, but per­haps a lack of ex­pe­ri­ence deal­ing with the prob­lem.

“We need a coali­tion of man­agers, play­ers and fans to get the mes­sage across that racism is un­ac­cept­able. Quite sim­ply, it is pure dis­crim­i­na­tion and ha­tred.”

Main­tain­ing that there were ar­eas where the FA could im­prove, such as “be­ing­bet­ter­atan­tic­i­pat­ing­prob­lems”, Mr John­son con­tin­ued: “Stew­ard train­ing must also im­prove. Stew­ards must not dis­miss a com­plaint as a laugh or ban­ter. I know the FA must work harder to deal with the prob­lem ro­bustly so sup­port­ers be­come con­fi­dent that it will be dealt with.”

Chris Wal­ley, the FA’s head of sta­dia and safety, dis­closed that 3,000 ban­ning or­ders had been im­posed on fans in the UK. The in­di­vid­u­als are sub­ject to a min­i­mum ban of three years from trav­el­ling to Europe for club or coun­try. Com­ment­ing on the re­cent case of an Arse­nal fan con­victed of an­tisemitic chant­ing at Barnet, Mr Wal­ley ad­mit­ted that the FA were un­happy with the fine alone and would be con­tact­ing Arse­nal to in­sist he should be banned from the Emi­rates Sta­dium.

Alex Gold­berg of the Board of Deputies told del­e­gates: “One of the prob­lems is some peo­ple do not recog­nise that an­tisemitism is a form of abuse. There is no such thing as ‘ban­ter’. It is abuse, and this ac­tion plan is a long time com­ing. There should be more ef­fec­tive mech­a­nisms to deal with an­tisemitism and Is­lam­o­pho­bia and we want strict li­a­bil­ity, with clubs be­ing held re­spon­si­ble for the ac­tions of sup­port­ers.”

Com­ment­ing on Spurs’ “Yids” chant, he de­clared: “It is used as a badge of pride among Tot­ten­ham sup­port­ers, but for Holo­caust sur­vivors, it is one of the deep­est forms of in­sults.”

He said the sit­u­a­tion at West Ham was “par­tic­u­larly bad”, adding: “We know far-right groups are us­ing low­er­league clubs to or­gan­ise vi­o­lence and in­tim­i­da­tion against re­li­gious and eth­nic mi­nori­ties.”

John Mann MP, head of the parl i a men­tary com­mit­tee on an­tisemitism, told the con­fer­ence: “Our role is to get an­tisemitism in foot­ball recog­nised as a form of racism, of equal im­por­tance to that of colour. The FA has taken a fan­tas­tic lead, but there is room for im­prove­ment.”

Com­man­derBobBroad­hurst of the Metropoli­tan Po­lice told del­e­gates: “We know that, as foot­ball is a global game, if we get things right in the foot­ball world, then so­ci­ety will im­prove.”

T he F A’ s L ucy Faulkner told the sum­mit: “We now have a f i v e - point ac­tion plan to look at how stew­ards man­age in­ci­dents, the way grounds are po­liced, how the FA mon­i­tors in­ci­dents, strength­en­ing re­port­ing mech­a­nisms and the role of ref­er­ees. I am op­ti­mistic that we can make a dif­fer­ence.”

Speak­ing af­ter the sum­mit, she said: “We can deduct points now, but if we were to do it, it would have to­be­for­some­thing­pret­tyex­treme. We want to work with clubs to do as much as we can to im­prove the sit­u­a­tion. Sanc­tions are the last thing we want to put in place.” Speak­ing to the JC af­ter the sum­mit, Martin Ber­liner, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Mac­cabi GB, said: “I still want a ded­i­cated cam­paign tack­ling an­tisemitism in sport. The FA’sac­tion­planiswel­come but must be fi­nanced by clubs and the FA.”

Mr Ber­liner, who this week led an­other meet­ing to tackle an­tisemitism in the game, said: “It is clearly a long road and even though ev­ery­one has talked the talk I will be in­ter­ested to see if they can walk the walk.”

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