Antisemitism in football could harm 2018 World Cup bid

By Danny Caro, October 14, 2010
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The One Game, One Community Week of Action got under way yesterday. Once again, antisemitism in football appears to have been overlooked. You have to ask why? Do the authorities not think that there is a problem?

Only last Sunday, there was a disgraceful incident in a junior match in Manchester where one of their players was dismissed for verbally abusing the parent of one of the South players. That's right. This is not a mis-print or factual error. An Under 16 footballer yelled insulting words towards the parent of an opposition player. I'm sure you'll agree that this is both shocking and unacceptable.

Martin Berliner, chief executive of Maccabi GB, and solicitor Jonathan Metliss, a Kick It Out board advisory member, have become increasingly frustrated by the lack of action taken by the authorities when it comes to tackling antisemitism in football, which is rarely dealt with with the same firm hand as the racism issue. Both are Chelsea fans and Martin told me that Israel captain Yossi Benayoun regularly suffers antisemitic abuse from his own fans at Chelsea. It's clear to me that the Premiership champions have a deep-rooted problem that they are not prepared to stand up to, and that's with a Jewish owner with whom they would not be the force they are. These findings come on the back of a pre-season friendly against Ajax in Amsterdam when a Jewish Chelsea fan told me that some of his fellow supporters "were singing some of the worst antisemitic songs" he'd ever heard at a game.

Enough is enough. The colour issue has long been at the forefront of schemes such as One Game, One Community and Kick It Out. It's time for us to stand up and be counted and take action before deciding whether or not this country is fit to host a World Cup. Critics have said that racism in football is one of the factors damaging the Russian bid but I think that people should also look a little closer to home.

● The Akko Women's Open tournament gets under way at the Israel Tennis Centre on Monday. With prizes totalling $10,000, the event will be held in partnership with the Israel Tennis Centres and the Israel Tennis Association, and is supported by The Freddie Krivine Foundation.

The girls to watch in Akko are Israel's No. 1 Arab player Dana Nussrallah from Nazareth and Ofri Lankri, daughter of the Mayor of Akko.

During the 1970s, Krivine was one of the original six founder-trustees of the Israel Tennis Centres and the Akko Open will be held in his memory. He was President of the ITA for more than 12 years and sought to bring Arab children into the game. After his death, the Freddie Krivine Foundation, directed by his daughter Jane, continued its work in Arab towns and villages, many with coexistence programmes attached.

● Wingate & Finchley's Joe Sharpe, Ryan Sellers, Jamie Nageioff and Sam Singer have been selected for the Herts FA side.

● Karen Shooter (nee Lieberman) completed her first half marathon in 2 hours 31 minutes, raising funds for Norwood. She said: "It was an amazing experience and I'm chuffed to bits."

● Neil Zeff, the former Glenthorne United defender, has signed for JC Olim League outfit Ra'anana who beat Tel Aviv and England FC to his signature.

    Last updated: 2:54pm, October 19 2010