Fourteen international anti-Semitism coordinators and envoys have written to leading soccer teams in Europe, asking them to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHGA) working definition of anti-Semitism.
According to The Guardian, the coordinators and envoys believe the global reach of elite soccer can provide team employees with the tools to identify and confront acts of discrimination.
The 14 signatories of the letter highlighted rising instances of anti-Semitism during the COVID-19 pandemic. They hope agreements to sign the IHGA’s document could help to “send out a very strong message about your club’s ethos.”
English Premier League side Chelsea were the first team to sign up to the definition in January 2020. West Ham, Borussia Dortmund, Bournemouth and Tennis Borussia Berlin also committed later in the year.
Lord John Mann, the U.K. government’s adviser on anti-Semitism, praised Chelsea’s action to help confront anti-Semitism. He believes soccer has the potential to inspire others and to reach a global audience more than any other platform in society.
“What we found with Chelsea is the reach of football is far bigger than other institutions in civil society. If a fan sat at home with his club all over his Facebook and Twitter persona is spewing out antisemitism, then if the club challenges it that’s dramatically more powerful. If the club gives a message of ‘These aren’t our values’ and invites the individual in for some education, most people would accept the invitation. We’re getting to people who, perhaps because of their ignorance, are creating distress,” Mann explained, according to The Guardian report.
Although more European sides have committed to tackling anti-Semitism recently, Mann still feels it still takes place across the continent.
The U.K. government’s adviser pointed to growing issues in the sport in Europe where anti-Semitism rhetoric has been noticed, including in Poland, Austria, Hungary and Germany.
He believes the education of teams’ staff to recognize, confront and remove any abusive banners in stadia can play a part in addressing anti-Semitism, but he also acknowledged that individual instances of such abuse can be more complicated.
The IHGA’s working definition of anti-Semitism aims to provide clarity on what the word means and gives examples of anti-Semitic remarks or behaviors.
The Inquisitr has previously reported on issues of prejudice against Jews after rapper Nick Cannon interviewed neo-Nazi and white nationalist Richard Spencer on the Cannon’s Class podcast. Cannon was criticized at the time for making anti-Semitic comments during the recording.