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May 4, 2015 8:13 pm

Major Jewish Group Accuses Popular Soccer Website Goal.com of ‘Inciting Jew-Hatred’

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Goal.com referred to the Israeli team Maccabi Tel Aviv as an "occupied Palestinian territories Zionist team." Photo: Maccabi Tel Aviv FC official website.

Major Jewish human rights group the Simon Wiesenthal Center on Monday sharply criticized popular soccer news site Goal.com for “denying the legitimacy of Israel and inciting to Jew-hatred” in its Arabic language versions, The Algemeiner has learned.

In a sharp letter to the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), the Center’s Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, drew attention to articles on the site that refer to Israel as the “Zionist entity” or an “enemy,” and accuse the Jewish state of “occupation.” One report about Israel’s defeat in a match said “this is the first Zionist loss in the play-offs” while another article mentioned Wales “defeating the Zionist entity team of the City of Haifa in the occupied territories.”

In the letter, addressed to UEFA President Michel Platini, Samuels said, “‘Zionist entity’ is deemed as denying the legitimacy of the State of Israel and the very right to sovereignty of the Jewish people.” He added, “calling Haifa, Tel Aviv and Beersheba occupied territories, in effect deletes all of Israel from the map.”

One particularly offensive article on Goal.com celebrated how the “occupied Palestinian territories Zionist teams, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Hapoel Tel Aviv and Hapoel Beersheba” were unable to play in the summer of 2014 due to “Palestinian Hamas shelling.” One story noted that Bosnian player Edin Dzeko would not participate in the Euro 2016 qualifier against “the Zionist enemy” in the “Arab city of Jerusalem.”

The website boosts a “global constituency” of 64 million fans, Samuels noted in his letter. He argued that the offensive language against Israel violates Goal.com’s online Terms of Message and Content Use, which forbids expressions that are “threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, offensive, pornographic, profane, sexually explicit or indecent [language]…promotes violence,… discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age…likely to harass, upset, embarrass or alarm any other person.”

Multiple appeals to Goal.com’s London headquarters have not been answered, Samuels said. He explained that a similar complaint to the sports network Eurosport resulted in immediate action by the pan-European company. At the time, the Head of International Media Relations at Eurosport said the site’s “editorial policy is not to express any political or religious views and this is a standard we intend to maintain.”

“Mr. President, these words are the very hallmark of the beautiful game and we urge UEFA’s support in ensuring that Goal.com take the necessary measures for its Arabic website to act in a similar manner,” Samuels wrote, referring to Eurosport’s decision. “Keep politics and religion out of the beautiful game.”

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