The MEMRI DTTM project, which monitors neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups around the world 24/7, including on their most popular social media platforms, documented in 2020 and 2021 how these groups use soccer as an expression of their hatred for Jews and an opportunity to incite against Jews. Our monitoring in over a dozen languages has found many examples, including a recent incident in which a group of British supporters of the West Ham United Soccer club on a flight to Belgium began chanting at an Orthodox Jewish man who boarded the plane, "I've Got a Foreskin, Haven't You, Fucking Jew?" This kind of behavior is common in the world of soccer fandom and is particularly evident across Europe, where radical politics, identity, and fandom have fused into a distinct cultural milieu which is ripe for the growth of extremism.
The extremism and antisemitism of this space is most evident in the "ultra" subculture. Ultra, or "hooligan" groups, often known as "firms" in the United Kingdom, are organized associations of soccer fans known for their fanatical support, their extremist political views – including overt white supremacy or neo-Nazism – and their reputation for violence. Some use white supremacist and neo-Nazi imagery in their chants, clothing, banners, and flags, and some fans give the Roman salute to express support for their team and for the extremist political views that the gesture connotes. Violent extremist groups are known to recruit from among these ultras, and there is often significant overlap between the hooligan world and the world of racially motivated violent extremism.
Antisemitism is often directed at supporters of teams that have a reputation for being Jewish. Some of these teams were started by Jews, are currently owned by Jews, had Jewish players, or were based in historically Jewish areas. Rivals of these teams at times use Holocaust imagery or language and other antisemitic tropes to insult their rivals.
The following report details instances of antisemitism by soccer fans in 2020 and 2021, as documented on various social media platforms.
YOU MUST BE SUBSCRIBED TO THE MEMRI DOMESTIC TERRORISM THREAT MONITOR (DTTM) TO READ THE FULL REPORT. GOVERNMENT AND MEDIA CAN REQUEST A COPY BY WRITING TO [email protected] WITH THE REPORT TITLE IN THE SUBJECT LINE.
In the United Kingdom there have been several instances of antisemitism by soccer fans, many involving a soccer team based in London. Rivals of the team have at times used the term "Yid" to insult the team's supporters and have brought Nazi flags to games and given Nazi salutes.
An example of antisemitism among English soccer fans surfaced this year when a video was posted on social media that showed supporters of a British team singing an antisemitic chant. Videos of the incident were widely shared on social media by white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and other antisemites.
A white supremacist social media account posted a video of the event.
In Italy there have been several incidents of antisemitism connected to supporters of soccer clubs. Some clubs are known for having openly neo-Nazi and fascist groups of fans.
An ultranationalist social media account has posted several photos of Italian soccer fans giving Nazi salutes and using Nazi imagery. One photo show supporters of a team holding a banner and giving Nazi salutes.
In Poland, as in other countries, teams believed to be associated with the Jewish community are at times targeted by antisemitic chants by supporters of opposing teams.
A prominent neo-Nazi website has published several articles commenting on antisemitic behavior by Polish soccer fans. One article discussed a prosecutor's decision not to prosecute antisemitic chanting by fans of a Polish soccer team, writing that it was good news and arguing that it showed people were standing up to "criminal" Jews who controlled the government.