The World Jewish Congress and the Bergen-Belsen Memorial presented guidelines for combating antisemitism in soccer to Lower Saxony Minister of Justice Barbara Havliza and the anti-Semitism commissioner Dr. Franz Rainer Enste on 31 March 2021.
The recommendations, which are a part of the joint WJC and Bergen-Belsen Memorial project "Who against whom? Violence, Exclusion and the Stereotype 'Jew' in Football, were derived from 30 interviews with officials from soccer teams to properly understand the steps teams and associations are taking to combat antisemitism. Among the recommendations for associations and professional and amateur teams are to accept and implement the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition on antisemitism and support research on the local Jewish community and their role in the associations and soccer teams.
The efforts were welcomed by Justice Minister Havliza who said, “The recommended actions clearly show the possibilities in football to get involved against antisemitism. Anyone who perceives hostility to Jews in sport must take action against it. That applies to songs the fans sing, as well as to stupid sayings in the clubhouse. Strengthening prevention is therefore an important means of counteracting agitation, hatred, racism and antisemitism from the outset. For this reason, too, we recently created our own organizational unit in the Lower Saxony Ministry of Justice - the Prevention and Victim Protection Unit.”
“We must do everything in our power to rid the world of sport from antisemitism, xenophobia and all other forms of fanaticism,” stressed Menachem Rosensaft, World Jewish Congress Associate Executive Vice President. “The recommendations for action provide the framework for achieving this crucial goal.”
Elke Gryglewski, managing director of the Lower Saxony Memorials Foundation and head of the Bergen-Belsen Memorial, said that "knowledge of historical events" is crucial in identifying and combatting anti-Jewish tendencies in soccer. "With our recommendations for action, we would like to support those who have understood that some statements and actions are incorrect and provide them with guidance," Gryglewski added.
While antisemitic insults, threats and event attacks are not new phenomena in soccer, effective and preventive measures - such as education - are rarely available, according to the guide.
"Antisemites must be shown the red card," said the Lower Saxony antisemitism commissioner, Enste.
The project was launched by Lower Saxony's anti-Semitism commissioner Dr. Franz Rainer Enste and funded by the State Prevention Council of the Lower Saxony Ministry of Justice as part of the federal program "Democracy Live! 2020-24" and the World Jewish Congress.