NEW YORK – The World Jewish Congress has called on the Royal Belgian Football Association to reconsider the decision of the Belgian Football Union’s appeals commission to absolve supporters of Club Bruges KV following derogatory comments made during a recent match versus RSC Anderlecht.
Bruges supporters had chanted “Whoever does not jump is gay” and “All Jews are gay,” during the match in the Constant Vanden Stock stadium, and the Office of the Federal Prosecutor had requested a heavy fine for the club. Last week, however, the appeals commission acquitted Bruges, saying that the chants were not discriminatory, nor were they aimed at offending Jews or homosexuals.
“The terms used simply indicate a sexual orientation or a population group. The word ‘Jewish’ has no derogatory or discriminatory connotation, nor does the word ‘homo’,” the Commission said in its verdict.
In a letter to the association’s president, Gerard Linard, WJC CEO and Executive Vice President Robert Singer underscored that the comments and chants heard during this incident “are undoubtedly and objectively antisemitic and homophobic in their nature,” adding that, “there is simply no reason – other than one with ill-intentions – by which fans of one club should refer to their opponents as ‘Jews” or “homosexuals’. These actions have the potential to have serious detrimental effects to both communities.”
“As we have regrettably have seen time and again in recent years, acts of hatred towards various minority groups can have devastating results. Unacceptable language has become the norm in today’s world, and sporting clubs and athletes possess a unique platform to combat this phenomenon,” Singer wrote.
“The World Jewish Congress works tirelessly to eradicate these worrisome trends. It is essential for the sporting world to stand firm against all acts of hatred and to place an emphasis on educating fans, especially young ones who remain impressionable,” the WJC CEO added. It is for these reasons that we call on you to reconsider your decision to absolve the perpetrators of these hateful actions. We stand ready to offer our hand in order to ensure that such acts will not happen again.”
In a separate incident in August of last year, Brugges fans were caught on tape shouting chants including, “Mijn vader zat bij de commando's, Mijn moeder bij de SS, En samen verbanden ze Joden, want joden die branden de best". When translated into English the phrase means, "My father was part of a commando (unit), my mother was SS, and together they burned Jews, because the Jews burn the best.”