Arsenal star impressed by Avram Grant

By Andrew Pentol, July 8, 2010
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Batson

Batson

Former Arsenal star Brendon Batson has praised incoming West Ham boss Avram Grant. He also backed new Chelsea signing Yossi Benayoun to shine at Stamford Bridge after the midfielder completed his move from Liverpool last week.

Batson said: "There have always been Jewish players giving their best week in, week out, but in terms of managers, Avram Grant is well respected and has performed at a high level off the pitch."

The summer transfer merry-go-round is yet to gather pace due to the World Cup in South Africa, but Benayoun's move surprised Batson. "Benayoun must have remembered the taunts of the Stamford Bridge faithful directed at his religion when playing for Liverpool, but he has made his decision and good luck to him.

"One minute football fans want to give players a lot of abuse, but when they sign for the team they support and play well it all changes."

Batson was a panellist at Monday's discussion chaired by British Friends of Yad Vashem trustee and Kick it Out advisory group member Jonathan Metliss. The event focused on racism in football and England's bid to host the 2018 World Cup.

Another discussion point was the persistent chant of 'Yiddos', which often reverberates around White Hart Lane. The audience was divided as to whether the chant should be seen as racist and antisemitic. But in what is seen as a major breakthrough, Ivor Baddiel pointed out that Spurs have finally acknowledged that this as an issue which must be addressed. He explained: "The club gave permission for captain Ledley King to participate in the film which is a huge step forward.

"Spurs have made it clear that the issue is a sensitive one snd they want to deal with it in a sensitive way. They want to work with us in a way which keeps supporters onside and the last thing we want to do is make fans feel alienated by their own club."

Metliss concluded by highlighting a strong link between the British Friends of Yad Vashem organisation and anti-racism equivalent Kick it Out.

"The organisation exists to support the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem," he said. "Kick it Out exists to confront and address racism in UK football. For that reason there is the neutrality of interest between what Yad Vashem does which is to fight racism and tell the world about the Holocaust and Kick it Out which is fighting racism."

    Last updated: 11:01am, October 14 2010