Israeli football fans face anti-Semitism during match in Germany

Union Berlin supporters reportedly made anti-Semitic gestures and insults to fans of Israeli team Maccabi Haifa at Berlin’s Olympiastadion during their football match against Union Berlin on Thursday.

Members of the German-Israeli Association Youth Forum reported that beer was thrown at them and that a Berlin fan had attempted to burn an Israeli flag.

“We are at the #UECL game between @fcunion and @mhfootballclub. In the mixed bloc we were threatened by Union fans, pelted with beer and insulted, including ‘s****y Jews'”, the tweet read.

Maccabi Haifa lost 3-0 to the German team. The two teams played each other as part of the qualifying round of the group stage for the 2021/22 UEFA Europa Conference League. There were almost 24,000 Berlin fans and 1,000 Haifa fans at the event.

Union Berlin plays in the Bundesliga, the highest professional league in Germany, while Maccabi Haifa plays in the Israeli Premier League, the highest league in Israel.

The Olympiastadion, where the match was held, was built between 1934 and 1936, according to the stadium’s website, during the time when the Nazi Party controlled Germany. Maccabi Haifa is reportedly the first Israeli club to play at the stadium, according to Yahoo News.

Maccabi Haifa fans were located near the far end near the stadium, DW News reported.

Union Berlin asked the authorities to give them the information on the block and seat numbers of the people responsible for the anti-Semitic incident.

The German club also condemned the attack on their website. “This behavior is shameful and we will not tolerate it. We apologize to those affected. We support the police investigation with all the information sources available to us,” said Dirk Zingler, FC Union Berlin president.

“Football matches are our chance to break through prejudice through meeting and contact with each other. Many of us had good meetings and discussions yesterday with our guests from Haifa and representatives of Jewish organizations in Berlin,” he continued.

The German-Israeli Association Youth Forum thanked Union fans who showed solidarity in the stadium and spoke out against the anti-Semitic behaviour.

“Thank you for the great hospitality. It was an exciting match for you and our audience and also in this stadium that has its meaning. Thank you and see you in Israel,” the organization said on Twitter.

The Israeli team had not commented on the incident, but thanked Union Berlin for “an exciting game for your audience and ours as well.”

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