Wednesday, 25 April 2018 12:33

Belgium – Antisemitic chants and posters in football stadium

April media monitoring highlight for Belgium. During the Beerschot-Antwerp match on 15 April 2018, Beerschot Wilrijk supporters sang antisemitic chants and displayed antisemitic banners.

This article is part of the Media Monitoring Highlights of April, a monthly overview of the most significant results of our monitoring of traditional and new media in Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, and the United Kingdom.

Beerschot Wilrijk TweetDate of publication: 18 April 2018

Media outlet: Twitter

Author: KFCO Beerschot Wilrijk 

About the author: Beerschot Wilrijk is a Belgium football club located in Wilrijk, Antwerp. They have 5200 followers on Twitter and about 40.000 on Facebook.

Link to tweet:  

Description of the antisemitic content: During the Beerschot-Antwerp match on 15 April 2018, Beerschot Wilrijk supporters sang antisemitic chants and displayed antisemitic banners. Prompted by the Pro League, Beerschot club released a statement assuring everyone that they “sincerely acknowledge Jewish suffering during the Second World War", and as a sign of respect the delegation from the club will visit the Kazerne Dossin, the Memorial Museum and Documentation Centre on Holocaust and Human Rights in Mechelen, Belgium. The club also said they will ban supporters with antisemitic banners or who sing antisemetic songs in the stadium, including the word “Jew”. However, the statement goes on to say that this does not apply to the song “if you don’t’ jump, you’re a Jew” because it is racist or hateful as “Jew” is simply a very old nickname given to Antwerp FC that is even used by Antwerp FC fans. Despite their promised to ban anti-Semitism in the club, their social media pages still show photos of the stadium and their fans with antisemitic posters. One such posters calls for a ban of the Jewish star of David. 

Myth Debunked: Antisemitic banners and chants are commonplace discriminatory practices in football stadiums in Europe. “Calling opponent team supporters ‘Jews’ is commonly used by far-right groups in Europe as a means of causing offence,” states the Global Guide to Discriminatory Practices in Football. “It reflects an anti-Semitic worldview which inflicts xenophobic stereotypes about Jewish people onto fans of the opposing team.”  

Though this might seem innocuous to some – including the Beerschot club which does not regards these antisemitic chants as insulting – if unchallenged, these practices create an unsafe environment for everyone, especially Jewish people. If some supporters see it as good fun and not intentionally antisemitic, these songs and banners are nevertheless offending a minority group. As the Community Security Trust explains, “This can force some to hide the fact they are Jewish or even to stop participating altogether.” 

Some football clubs, such as Antwerp in Belgium, Tottenham in England and Ajax in the Netherlands, have a reputation for being “Jewish clubs,” and its supporters regard this as an honour (despite not being Jewish). Some teams use their Jewish image as a badge of honour and supporters say that, in doing so, they are appropriating insulting terms and reversing their meaning. However, this practice is problematic. First of all, fierce rivalry between football clubs means that having a Jewish image regrettably prompts antisemitic responses from opposing teams – and this can have violent consequences outside the stadiums too. Secondly, football fans claiming a collective Jewish identity that is not actually theirs, when they are defending it  are not in fact defending Jews, but their team. 

Despite their laudable commitment to fighting antisemitism, Beerschot club seems to acknowledge antisemitism as part of European history, but not part of its present. Paying a visit to the Holocaust Museum is an excellent way of understanding the sufferings of Jewish people in Europe, but it’s important not to relegate antisemitism to the past. Antisemitic violence and hatred did not end with the Holocaust. 

More to read:

Playing The Game: Reporting Antisemitism in Football

Global Guide to Discriminatory Practices in Football

Whatever their intention, Spurs fans should stop calling themselves Yids

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