Reporting Racist Incidents in Israeli Soccer

29 March 2023

The New Israel Fund’s Kick Racism and Violence Out of Israeli Soccer (KIO) released a report on racism and violence for the second round of games to compete for the championship) in the 2022/23 season. The report revealed a new record in racist and violent incidents at Ligat Ha’Al (Premier League) stadiums. In the second round of matches, the number of times fans had chanted racist messages doubled. The total incidents of racism and violence climbed to 123 so far, and the season is far from over. These chants could be heard at 22 matches during the second round. In addition, a record was broken for number of objects thrown (a form of violence) during league matches;the KIO program observers counted 99 items in 33 matches in the second round. Of the 99 objects, 33 were pyrotechnic and included: fireworks, flares and smoke grenades. 

Finally, there has been a consistent rise in chanting desecrating the memory of the Holocaust, with 50 such incidents of Holocaust chanting during the second round in 20 matches. For example, Hapoel Tel Aviv fans have been known to chant “Shoah for Maccabi” when playing their rivals.

The report was compiled based on testimony from observers in attendance at all Ligat Ha’Al matches and cross-referenced with information from the hearings of the Israel Football Association disciplinary court as well as referees’ reports and media coverage. The report aims to be comprehensive and include any incident an average fan might have encountered in and around the football stadium. 

Following this significant rise in racist and homophobic chanting and violent incidents, the KIO opened a WhatsApp line for fans to report incidents. In the message, fans record the content of the incident, the individuals connected to the incident, and the minute of the match in which it occurred. Every incident is then verified and compared with the program’s observers report and in the event that the WhatsApp report is found to be reliable, it will be added to the program’s reports. 

Matan Segal, the coordinator of the Kick Racism and Violence out of Israeli Soccer campaign said, “Israeli soccer is a mirror of Israeli society and accordingly we are seeing a rise in violent and racist incidents away from stadiums and we are experiencing them even more strongly within the stadiums. This report is a wakeup call for everybody for whom Israeli soccer and society are important.”