Blues failed Yossi, say fans

The Jewish Chronicle - - News - BY JEN­NIFER LIP­MAN

CHELSEA FC’S de­ci­sion for­mally to com­plain about an­tisemitic abuse di­rected at Is­raeli mid­fielder Yossi Be­nay­oun by Malaysian foot­ball fans has been met with a mixed re­ac­tion.

The swift ac­tion was praised by the Com­mu­nity Se­cu­rity Trust and the Zion­ist Fed­er­a­tion, along with an­tiracism group Kick it Out. The Malaysian Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion’s re­sponse, in which they apol­o­gised but ques­tioned whether Be­nay­oun had been jeered at, was greeted with less en­thu­si­asm.

But some fans ques­tioned whether Chelsea, owned by Jewish busi­ness­man Ro­man Abramovich, should have taken Be­nay­oun to a Mus­lim ma­jor­ity coun­try which does not recog­nise the Jewish state. “It’s like tak­ing a Jewish player to play a BNP team,” said MSFL ref­eree Neal Co­hen.

“It’s all about money — they went to Malaysia to ex­pand their fan base,” said Chelsea sea­son ticket holder Daniel Sil­ver. But he praised the club for tak­ing a stand rather than copy­ing West Ham, who five years ago left both Be­nay­oun and Yaniv Katan out of train­ing in Dubai.

Ten­sion over Chelsea’s attitude to an­tisemitic sup­port­ers has a longer his­tory. Hear­ing the word “Yid” and hiss­ing noises to im­i­tate gas cham­bers — of­ten at Chelsea-Tot­ten­ham matches — prompted the Y Word cam­paign. It was backed by Chelsea’s Frank Lam­pard, al­though not by Be­nay­oun.

“Chelsea are do­ing things now but they haven’t done enough over the years,” said Mr Co­hen, a Tot­ten­ham fan. Chelsea sup­porter Mark Levine said the sit­u­a­tion had im­proved, with reg­u­lar anti-racism an­nounce­ments at the ground and in the club lit­er­a­ture. He said: “I’d say 90 per cent of the crowd are very well be­haved.”

PHOTO: GETTY IM­AGES

Be­nay­oun at the Malaysian match in which he was abused

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