Reporting on Racism in Soccer

7 June 2023

NIF’s Let’s Kick Racism and Violence Out of Israel Soccer (KIO) recently noted that the 2022-2023 soccer season is now on the books as the most racist and violent in its history. KIO’s findings have been widely reported in Israel’s mainstream media.

According to reports by volunteer observers who attended all matches in Israel’s top soccer league and compiled by KIO, there were 190 incidents of racist chanting at matches during this past season. This is more than double what had previously been considered the most racist season (2015-2016) in which  79 incidents of racist chanting had been reported. While most of the chanting was directed at Arabs by Jewish fans, there were also 28 incidents of anti-Black chants (specifically, they would chant “monkey” at Black players). Beitar Jerusalem was the club where the most incidents of racist chanting were recorded (78), followed by Maccabi Tel Aviv (65).

The report found that the fans are not deterred from violating Israel’s laws against racist chanting, largely because these laws were not enforced. During the season, there were only eight occasions in which clubs faced formal disciplinary proceedings from the Israel Football Association due to racist chanting and no action was taken by police despite the rampant chanting.

Matan Segal, Director of KIO Israel said, “Every Israeli feels the tension and violence in Israeli society. As we know, football reflects the face of society and the events taking place in Israel’s stadiums have taught us how worrying the situation is. This is the most racist and violent season that we have ever experienced in the stadiums and the challenge to the law by fans has crossed a line.”