We hate Jews (except our best player)

By Nissan Tzur, May 12, 2011

When newspaper rumours first appeared about his possible transfer from Hapoel Beer Sheba to the Polish club of Wisla Krakow, Israeli football player Maor Melikson was bombarded with phone calls.

"A lot of people warned me off it. They told me: 'It's the most antisemitic club in Poland. They hate Jews, it won't be smart for a Jew to play there.'"

Krakow has two teams, Wisla and Cracovia. While Cracovia is known as the 'Jewish team' due to the fact that it was founded by Jews in 1906, Wisla's fans proudly call themselves the "Anti Jude gang" and regularly spray city walls with antisemitic graffiti.

But Mr Melikson is enjoying his new club. "When fans of Wisla Krakow heard I might play for them, some of them contacted me on Facebook and told me that I have no reason to be scared. They said that the hate is directed at their local rivals, Cracovia, and they don't hate Jews just for being Jews. In fact, people are very friendly to me," he said.

Mr Melikson has become one of the best players in the Polish league and has been mentioned as a prospect for the national team, for which he qualifies beacuse his mother was born in Poland. And he has become so popular at Wisla that fans are calling his name long after matches have finished.

Last updated: 3:39pm, May 12 2011