Antisemitism rife in junior football with Jewish kids being hissed at, MP warns

A Greater Manchester MP has warned anti-Semitism is rife even at junior level in football, with reports of seven-year-old Jewish players being hissed on the pitch as a way to replicate the noise of the gas chambers. Bury South MP Christian Wakeford urged the Government to do ‘much more’ to ensure that British football players can play their ‘beautiful game’ without being subjected to unacceptable abuse.

Speaking during a Westminster Hall debate on antisemitism and other forms of racism in football, Mr Wakeford warned there are examples of antisemitism everywhere in football, even at junior level. He described the reports of young Jewish players being hissed at by their opponents as ‘truly shameful, shocking and abhorrent’.

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Mr Wakeford, who defected to Labor from the Tory Party earlier this year, said: “Even at grassroots and junior football, I have heard local reports from Maccabi (A sports and community club in Prestwich), whose Jewish players, some only seven years of age, being hissed at by players on the opposite side, which was to replicate the noise of the gas chambers. And I am sure we can all agree it’s truly shameful, shocking and abhorrent. “

He added: “We see examples of anti-Semitism in football everywhere. Tottenham Hotspur Football Club is of course home to a large Jewish population and rival supporters have used a pejorative term, as it has been mentioned in this debate already, with little consequences for doing so.

“West Ham fans find themselves banned from attending club games after they sang antisemitic songs on a commercial flight…”

The Labor MP went on: “We need to do much more to ensure that British football players can play the beautiful game without being subjected to unacceptable abuse. We need tougher sanctions against defenders, action by social media companies, better education about the plight of Jews.

“We need a zero tolerance policy which doesn’t allow for repeat offenders.”

Conservative former cabinet minister Theresa Villiers, who led the debate, said the idea of ​​people making hissing noises at seven-year-old Jewish footballers is ‘just revolting’ and ‘profoundly disturbing’. She insisted it is a ‘real illustration that antisemitism remains a serious problem in football’.

Culture Minister Nigel Huddleston acknowledged there is ‘still more to do’ but assured MPs the Government is committed to continue to work with football authorities to ‘combat racism, discrimination and antisemitism both in person and online, from grassroots to the boardroom’.

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