Heartened by Fans Solidarity Following ‘Gas Chamber’ Tweet, Israeli Soccer Star Says He’ll Continue Playing in Germany
Israeli soccer star Almog Cohen has said that he will continue playing in Germany following widespread outrage over an antisemitic social media post sent to him by a rival fan last weekend that ordered him to “disappear into the gas chamber.”
Speaking to German news outlet Bild on Sunday, Cohen — who captains the German second division side FC Ingolstadt 04 — said that he had received messages from Israel encouraging him to return to his homeland following the antisemitic tweet last Friday, but that he had been heartened by the solidarity shown him in Germany.
“The support I’ve received here shows me that it’s right to keep fighting,” Cohen said.
Relegation-strugglers Ingolstadt were defeated 2-0 by FC Union Berlin in Friday night’s bad-tempered game, which saw Cohen dismissed midway through the second half in the wake of a scuffle with rival players. The abusive tweet was posted shortly after Cohen was shown the red card by the referee.
Cohen, who plays for Israel’s national team, said that the tweet had left him “totally shocked.”
German police have launched an investigation to try and locate the anonymous abuser, who wrote the words “Jewish cattle” in addition to the gas chamber insult, before signing off with “UNVEU” — an abbreviation used by FC Union Berlin fans. Berlin’s president, Dirk Zingler, declared that he was “ashamed of such fans.”
“FC Union stands for humanistic and democratic values,” Zingler said in a statement. “Anyone who doesn’t share these values has no place in our club or our stadium.”
Cohen told Bild that he “did not think that there are still people with such dark views.”
“That antisemitism is expressed so openly — that has not happened to me in my whole time in Germany,” Cohen said. He emphasized that at his previous club in Nuremberg and now in Ingolstadt, “I felt only love and affection.”
Cohen paid tribute to the “hundreds of messages coming from the fans that support me,” singling out Ingolstadt’s chief executive, Harald Gärtner, for special praise.
Of the anonymous abuser, Cohen commented that “whoever has such views has no place in society, but in prison.”
The German Football Association (DFB) also slammed the “disgusting” tweet and said it would look into the matter.