Prague Jewish Community complains about Sparta fans' racism
Chairman of the Prague Jewish Community Frantisek Banyai sent an open letter to representatives of the Czech first soccer league team Sparta complaining about its fans who yell anti-Semitic slogans during the team's games.
In the letter also signed by Prague Jewish Museum director Leo Pavlat, Banyai points to latest manifestations of anti-Semitism on Wednesday, when Sparta's fans chanted the word "Jude" (Jew) during its Champions League match against London's Arsenal.
The Prague Jewish Community wants the club representatives to prevent such expressions from repeating, the letter says.
Sparta has promised to investigate the behaviour of its fans on Wednesday and pointed out that it has fought against the displays of racism and anti-Semitism at stadiums for a long time.
CTK has obtained a copy of the letter addressed to chairman of Sparta's board Daniel Kretinsky.
The letter points out that the chanting of the word "Jude" by a part of the audience that was comprised of Sparta's organised fans, took place on Wednesday repeatedly.
"The use of the German word 'Jude' for Jew dispels any doubts about the fact that the word was used as an insult, in the same way as it was used during the mass persecution of Jews during World War Two," the letter says.
Representatives of the Prague Jewish Community and the Jewish Museum point out that some 80,000 Jews, Czechoslovak citizens, became victims of this persecution in the Czech lands and Moravia alone.
"By chanting the word 'Jude' (which in the past also appeared on the fans' posters) some fans of your club openly declare their adherence to Nazi anti-Semitism without your club expressing any strong protest against it," the letter says.
Banyai and Pavlat conceded that before the match with Arsenal, Sparta openly warned against manifistations of racism during the game and said that possible perpetrators of such expressions can be identified and brought to justice.
The authors of the letter say they firmly believe that the club was serious when it came up with such a statement and that it will be guarded by it in the case of "repeated anti-Semitic expressions by some of your fans during AC Sparta's matches."
They asked Sparta's representatives to say whether they will draw the consequences from the above-mentioned manifistations, declare its attitude towards the openly anti-Semitic part of its fans, and inform how it will stand up to the expressions of anti-Semitism in the future.
"The players and the club management openly declared their negative position on all similar expressions by the extremist minority of its fans. Sparta has dealt with the problem of racism and anti-Semitism very intensively in the past years, not only through its various campaigns, but also during the discussions with its fans, and through other measures," Sparta spokesman Jakub Otava said in a statement sent to CTK in reaction to the letter.
"The club closely cooperates with the police and takes a tough stance towards the fans convicted of similar acts," Otava said.
He said that the anti-Semitic expressions during Wednesday's game would be investigated.
"The club will act according to its declarations made in the past and according to its current informational campaigns," Otava said.
"The club's position on the problem has been absolutely clear for a long time. We do not want racists and anti-Semites at stadiums," he said.
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Tags:Czech republic, Sport
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