Players from Maccabi Haifa and Aris Thessaloniki soccer clubs took an unambiguous stand against antisemitism on Sunday, wearing t-shirts with the title “United Against Antisemitism” ahead of their match in Thessaloniki, Greece. The game highlighted the increased cooperation between the two teams, which comes as Israel and Greece are experiencing warming relations.
In addition to the show of solidarity to the Jewish community ahead of the match, Maccabi Haifa players wore t-shirts that said Jewish Holocaust Museum of Thessaloniki during the match itself. All proceeds from the game, including from the sale of jersey, which were subsequently signed by the players, as well as TV rights, and ticket sales were donated to the Holocaust Museum of Thessaloniki.
Prior to the game, players from both teams, as well as leadership from the World Jewish Congress and the local Jewish community visited the Holocaust monument of the city and laid wreaths, in memory of the 50,000 Jews of Thessaloniki who were deported and assassinated in the Auschwitz death camp during the Holocaust.
The WJC was represented by its representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Dr. Leon Saltiel, who originates from the city and is a historian of the Holocaust. Saltiel was recently awarded Yad Vashem’s prestigious 2021 International Book Prize for Holocaust Research, for his work “The Holocaust in Thessaloniki Reactions to the Anti-Jewish Persecution, 1942–1943,” published in 2020 by Routledge History.
Representing the local Jewish community was David Saltiel, the President of the Greek Jewish Community and of the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki.
One of the players of Maccabi Haifa, Rami Gershon, visited his grandfather’s grave at the Jewish cemetery of the city, who was one of the few Holocaust survivors from Thessaloniki.
The friendly match ended in a 2-2 tie.