Last Thursday, Matan Segal, director of NIF’s Let’s Kick Racism and Violence Out of Soccer (KIO Israel) was interviewed by KAN, Israel’s Public Broadcasting Corporation about the violence and racism in Israeli soccer stadiums, which he said was as a microcosm for the racism and rising violence in Israeli society.
Segal stressed that due to the racism in the stands and violent confrontations with the police, many football fans are already afraid to go to watch matches. He said that KIO Israel would continue to report on the events that take place at matches in order to keep the issue on the public agenda, so that soccer would eventually be free of racism and violence and the stadiums would be welcoming for all.
KIO Israel was established in 2003, when racist chanting at soccer games and taunting of Arab and Black players were a routine part of the game and went unchallenged. The initiative has successfully raised awareness of the problem and over the years racism has dramatically reduced, although much work remains to be done. The project has also expanded its reach to combat sexism and homophobia and to promote inclusivity, shared living, and coexistence through soccer.