Chelsea: formal complaint over Malaysian 'antisemitism'

Yossi Benayoun

Yossi Benayoun

Chelsea football club have made an official complaint following what they described as antisemitic abuse directed at Israeli player Yossi Benayoun at a match in Kuala Lumpur.

The Israeli became the first footballer from the Jewish state to play in a match in Malaysia in many years, when he helped Chelsea beat Malaysian XI last week.

But despite being allowed to play – Israelis Tal Ben Haim and Avram Grant were denied visas to enter the Muslim majority country for matches in recent years – Benayoun's presence did not go smoothly.

Instead, many in the 85,000-strong crowd jeered and booed him when he came in contact with the ball and he was substituted at half-time.

In response, Chelsea FC said in a statement that they had lodged a formal complaint with the Malaysian side.

They said that while most fans behaved appropriately, but added: "We believe Yossi was subjected to antisemitic abuse by a number of supporters at the game.

"Such behaviour is offensive, totally unacceptable and has no place in football."

They said that while the Malaysian trip was in general a positive experience, a complaint was still necessary.

"It is a shame, therefore, that the behaviour of a minority of supporters is also a memory we take away."

Mark Gardner of the Community Security Trust said: "If anti-Israeli abuse is antisemitic in its expression, then it should not be tolerated in football or in any other sphere of life."

Last updated: 2:27pm, July 28 2011