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March 31, 2021 4:18 pm

Aston Villa FC Condemns Flood of ‘Intolerant’ Reactions to Facebook Passover Greeting

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avatar by Sharon Wrobel

Aston Villa’s Anwar El Ghazi shoots at goal Pool via REUTERS/Michael Steele

Aston Villa FC spoke out against a torrent of antisemitic and anti-Israel comments posted on social media following a Passover greeting posted by the soccer team on its Facebook page. The club’s statement came as more than 27,000 “angry” emojis have been logged by social media users in response to the holiday message, versus about 6,000 positive reactions.

“The club deplores religious intolerance of any form and is an inclusive organization who welcomes people of all faiths,” Aston Villa wrote in a Facebook comment on Monday.

On March 27, at the start of the Jewish holiday, the Birmingham-based soccer club — which is co-owned by Egyptian billionaire Nassef Sawiris — had posted a graphic on Facebook featuring the Aston Villa logo, along with a large Star of David and the greeting “Happy Passover.” The post also included the caption “Chag Pesach Sameach,” the same greeting in Hebrew.

Jonny Gould, director of the Aston Villa Supporters Trust and a podcast host, said on Twitter that he wrote to the club’s corporate officers after seeing the “racist torrent” and was promised a response.

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“They replied immediately, insisting they won’t be deterred. I have been assured that Aston Villa will not be silenced by the digital hate mob and will continue to mark events such as Passover on club channels,” Gould wrote.

Additionally, Gould sent out a “warning” to football clubs: “When a player signs for your Club with a bigger social media following than you, anticipate and prepare for it. Expect pile-ons, even racist libels. Protect the reputation of your Club and its fans. Gone are the days of just signing a player for shirt sales in new markets. The globalization of football carries with it moral and reputational responsibility.”

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