Martin Berliner, the chief executive of Maccabi GB, is calling for Jewish football supporters to collectively mount a cogent campaign to eradicate antisemitism in football. A season ticket holder at Chelsea, Berliner believes that action must be taken after a fellow supporter of the Stamford Bridge club was the victim of a harrowing attack at the match at home to Derby County on March 12.
The supporter, who did not want to be named as he feared reprisals, has filed a report to the Police, FA, CST and Kick It Out after he was verbally abused and physically threatened by home supporters. He objected to taunts directed from his stand towards manager Avram Grant and stood up to the offenders.
In an email sent to Chelsea, he said: “While I have experienced antisemitic behaviour all my life, nothing prepared me for what I experienced at the game. Perhaps my actions were unwise as they resulted in a barrage of abuse ranging from ‘shut up you Jewish bastard’ to you ‘yiddo c***’. Worse was to follow, a large section of this stand in unison began a chant of ‘Spurs are on their way to Auschwitz, Hitler’s going to gas them again’ and ‘can you smell gas?’
“People were congratulating me for standing up to the bigots, but I also received plenty of looks from others who were not so supportive.”
The fan, who has been invited to Stamford Bridge to help Chelsea’s security team pinpoint offenders using CCTV, continued, “eventually one person was ejected but it should have been a few hundred. Towards the end of the game, I sensed I was in trouble — groups chatting, pointing and making threatening gestures. My friend and I left 10 minutes early for fear of reprisals. I am certain I will be targeted when I return for the match at home to Arsenal on Sunday. That said, I am not sure I will be able to return to that part of the ground again.”
Berliner commented: “Having been involved with this topic for more than four years I still feel we need to have a proactive stance to this whole issue .
“I believe the community needs to stand up to the problem and fear that we are potentially coming to a situation where Jewish fans will not feel comfortable attending matches at Chelsea. Supporters must report incidents to enable the authorities to deal with it.
A spokesman for Chelsea said: “We will take the strongest possible action against any Chelsea FC member or season ticket holder found guilty. The overwhelming majority of our fans share the club’s abhorrence of all forms of discrimination.”
A CST spokesman said: “The sustained nature of antisemitic chanting makes this a particularly serious incident and we expect Chelsea FC to do what they can to take action against those involved.”