Soccer Club Owner Excuses Anti-Semitic Remarks With ‘Some of my Best Friends Are Jews’ Line
The owner of a prominent English soccer club has been forced to apologize after being widely condemned for disparaging and racist remarks about Jewish and Chinese people.
Dave Whelan, the owner of Wigan Athletic, made the comments in the context of his controversial decision to appoint a coach with his own record of racist comments, Malky Mackay, as the team’s manager.
Dave Whelan said that Jews “chase money more than everybody else”, adding: “Jewish people love money”.
Mr Whelan also said that there was “nothing bad” about calling a person of Chinese origin a “chink”.
“It is like calling the British Brits, or the Irish paddies”.
He made the remarks in a newspaper interview in which he defended the club’s appointment of Malky Mackay as its manager.
Mr Mackay is currently being investigated by the Football Association for alleged antisemitism and racism in a series of texts sent earlier this year while he was manager of Cardiff City.
In them, a reference to Jewish football agent Phil Smith was followed by the comment: “Nothing like a Jew that sees money slipping through his fingers.”
Another text described Cardiff City owner, the Malaysian Vincent Tan, as a chink.
Mr Whelan said he did not think there was “a lot wrong” with what Mr Mackay is alleged to have said, and that he believed Mackay was only reflecting that Jewish people “love money” like everybody does. “It’s telling the truth. The Jews don’t like losing money. Nobody likes losing money,” he said.
His comments were condemned by Simon Johnson, a former FA head who is the chief executive at the Jewish Leadership Council.
“Unfortunately Mr Mackay and now Mr Whelan have referred to some of the worst old-fashioned tropes which have been used in the past as the basis of antisemitism and stereotyping of Jewish people,” he said.
In a tweet, he called on Mr Whelan to ” withdraw and apologize for his use of disgraceful antisemitic language.”
Kick It Out, the football anti-racism body, said the comments had called into question whether the 77-year-old multt-millionaire was a fit and proper person to be running a football club and called on the FA to take action against him.
In later interview with broadcaster Sky News, Whelan deepened the insult by saying, “I would never insult a Jewish person. I have got hundreds and hundreds of Jewish friends. I’ve got loads of Chinese friends and I would never, ever insult the Chinese.” Added Whelan: “All I was trying to say was that Jewish people are very similar to the English people in the desire to work hard and get money.”
Mark Gardner, Communications Director of the Community Security Trust (CST) which deals with security for the UK Jewish community, observed on the organization’s blog that Whelan’s “quick apology appears sincere, but reinforces his claim not to understand the offense: because even here, his reference to Jews as ‘a great race of people’ will still leave many people feeling that he simply doesn’t get how to talk about these issues in the modern day.”
The association of Jews with money is a very old antisemitic trope, which is exactly why Whelan’s blunt old-fashioned remarks caused the controversy: but the same thing, delivered in a much more sophisticated manner, underpins far more insidious and dangerous discourse that alleges Jewish and/or pro-Israeli lobbies control politicians, the media, global capitalism and much else, besides. It is those deeper comments, made in Parliament and elsewhere, that also need called out at every turn, and booted into touch.