Annual Report highlights racism in Israel but points to progress

Anti- discrimination campaigners in Israeli football have released a ‘Fairness Index’ describing a series of incidents of racism and violence over the year, but also praises fans for an increase in reporting and taking action against racism at their clubs.

The annual report of the Index, produced by KIO Israel using volunteers who monitored more than 200 matches for incidents of racism and violence ranks clubs based on negative and positive incidents.

Results show impact of campaigning
The authors point to a series of results that demonstrate the impact of their work and expanded efforts to tackling racism and violence. The reports findings include:

• 38 episodes of incitement against minorities this year, including 18 at Maccabi Tel Aviv and 15 at Beitar Jerusalem. Last years figure was 35; two years ago it was 49
• A 60% decline in the number of violent incidents involving large groups of fans
• Racism directed at 2 Beitar Jerusalem Muslim players signed from Chechnya which led to an increase in tensions including a “Beitar Pure Forever’ banner unfurled by an extremist group
• An increase of 25% in fans condemning incidents of violence and incitement

An example of the type of incident observed by the Index authors took place during the Tel Aviv derby where Maccabi Tel Aviv fans began a series of racist chants. In response some Hapoel fans called for Maccabi to be the victims of a ‘Holocaust’. The authors say that response of the majority to drown out the chants was decisive.

“Using the Holocaust as part of chants can be a common feature of fans’ abuse” says Itzik Shannon of the New Israel Fund which runs the KIO Israel campaign.

‘Maccabi and Beitar have most incidents’
“While this is an important example of fans confronting racism in their midst, Maccabi Tel Aviv, along with Beitar Jerusalem, have seen most of the expressions of racism over the past year.”

He continued, “The more encouraging developments shown by this year’s Fairness Index are the result of a number of important initiatives to counter the phenomenon of racism and violence in the stands.”

Shannon also believes that social initiatives within the clubs also played a major role, particularly at Maccabi Tel Aviv, Hapoel Beer Sheva, and Beitar Jerusalem, who have been working closely with the ‘Value Sports’ NGO.

There has also been an increase in the number of events involving former players.

Last week, Hapoel Beer Sheva were officially awarded the prize for having the best behaved supporters this season without a single incident during the season. The club have also worked to integrate Jewish and Arab players, as well as other minorities.

They received 6,000 shekels to purchase equipment for their fans.

Report incident