Haifa fans fall victim to anti-Semitic abuse at Berlin Olympiastadion

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Haifa supporters attend a Europa Conference League Group E soccer match between 1. FC Union Berlin and Maccabi Haifa FC in Berlin, Germany on Thursday, September 30, 2021 (AP Photo / Michael Sohn)

PA

The first football match involving an Israeli team at the stadium built for the 1936 Olympics hosted by Nazi Germany was marred by anti-Semitic abuse targeting fans of the visiting team.

Union Berlin said on Friday it condemned the anti-Semitic attacks on Maccabi Haifa supporters during the Europa League teams’ match at the Olympiastadion in Berlin the day before.

“Intolerable,” the club said in a statement about the physical and verbal abuse first detailed by members of the youth wing of local German-Israeli society, who attended the match in a mixed bloc of fans.

Union President Dirk Zingler apologized for the actions of the fans.

The Junges Forum Deutsch-Israelische Gesellschaft said they threw beer at them and were called “Jews (expletives)” among other slurs, and that a Union fan attempted to torching an Israeli flag taken from a partisan until he was arrested by the civil justice system. police.

“There were also Union fans who spoke out against this behavior. We moved to Maccabi Block to be on the safe side, ”the company said.

Of the 23,324 fans attending the match, which Union won 3-0, nearly 1,000 were Maccabi supporters.

The Berlin Antisemitism Research and Information Department, or RIAS, said on Friday that the atmosphere in Block 13, where Maccabi fans were located, was already heated before the game, and fans in visit also faced racist and homophobic slurs as well as anti-Semitic abuse.

RIAS said that after the match a group of Haifa fans were walking past Union supporters when one of the Union fans asked his companions, “Hey guys, is one of you has a little 74-90-8 in your pocket? ” RIAS said the individual smiled at Haifa fans. The numbers refer to hydrogen cyanide, the active ingredient in the poisonous gas Zyklon B.

The Fare Network, which fights discrimination in football, said that “eyewitnesses were shocked at the levels of anti-Semitism” during the match, and showed photos of a Union supporter who, he said, saluted the Nazis to visiting fans “and mistreated those who called him.

Another man behind in one of the images can also be seen giving a Nazi salute, which is done by extending the right arm upwards with the palm flattened. It’s illegal in Germany and punishable by jail time.

“This behavior is shameful and intolerable,” Union President Zingler said on Friday. “We apologize to those affected. Unfortunately, anti-Semitism is still present in our society, which is why it is also evident in the stadium. But we will never tolerate discrimination in our ranks. It is important to remain vigilant and to work tirelessly against it. We support police investigations with all sources of information at our disposal.

The Olympiastadion is typically used by Union rival Hertha Berlin, but it was taken over by the Union for European competition this season because its own stadium in the eastern district of Köpenick does not have enough seating. to meet UEFA’s requirements.

The Union said ahead of the match that it was welcoming staff from the Israeli embassy, ​​representatives from the House of One Judeo-Christian-Islamic dialogue project, athletes from the local sports club Makkabi Berlin and others for the match.

“We know that this game is of very particular importance beyond the sporting side for our guests in Haifa and for the Jewish community in Berlin,” Zingler said.

Maccabi Haifa made no mention of the post-game abusive incidents.

“Thank you for the great hospitality. It was an exciting game in front of you and our fans, and also in this stadium, which makes sense, “the club said on Twitter.” Thank you, and until we meet again in Israel. “

Union Berlin fan blog Textilvergehen said the words “disgusting” and “absolutely shameful” were not adequate to describe the abuse.

The youth wing of local German-Israeli society expressed gratitude on Friday for the support it received from the majority of fans.

“Thank you for the wave of online solidarity and to the Union supporters who showed their solidarity with us in the stadium! the group said on Twitter. “The majority of Unioners greeted the Maccabi in a friendly manner and celebrated football together.”

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