(January 3, 2019 / European Jewish Press) Soccer fans in Belgium chanted anti-Semitic slogans, including ones about the burning of Jews, during a recent match in the city of Bruges, prompting an Israeli lawfare organization to take action.
Footage published by La Derniere Heure shows dozens of fans at a match in the city of Bruges celebrating their local team’s victory over Brussels’ Anderlecht team by singing, “My father was in the commandos, my mother was in the SS, together they burned Jews, cause Jews burn the best.”
The anti-Semitic chant, which was first reported on by the media in 2015, has since gained momentum in the Netherlands and Belgium.
European sports teams have long used anti-Semitic and Holocaust themes as a way to degrade rival teams. Being associated with Judaism in the European soccer world is supposed to be a form of degradation. Fans call supporters of rival teams “Jewish” as a way of degrading them.
While the soccer club of Brugge, Bruges’ local club, “strongly” condemned the anti-Semitic incident and some of the fans were banned from the stadium, Yifat Segal, director of the International Legal Forum, said this was not enough and is demanding that the highest authorities issue a broad condemnation.
In a letter to the Royal Belgian Football Association and to Belgian Minister of Sports Sven Gatz, Segal wrote that “as this chant is a clear case of classic anti-Semitism, hatred, racism and incitement to violence, we demand that Club Brugge be condemned, fined and suspended immediately for allowing its fans to provoke such racism.”
She noted that the incident “clearly violates the Royal Belgian Football Association’s Charter against Racism,” which explicitly prohibits any form of racism such as anti-Semitism.
The charter also demands that all bodies involved take “preventive action against any sign of emerging racism or discrimination,” as well as the passing on all information regarding racist or discriminatory abuse to the local authorities and Association organizations.
Furthermore, Segal pointed out that the anti-Semitic chant is also a blunt violation of the resolution adopted by the European Parliament in June 2017, calling on member states and their institutions to adopt and apply the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism.
“It is inconceivable that in the year 2018—just over 70 years after the Holocaust—such racist chants against Jews would remain overlooked,” said Segal. “As this chant belongs to the darkest times of human existence, we urge you to take every step possible to prevent further cases from reoccurring, and demand that the team be condemned, fined and suspended immediately.”