‘I’d Rather Die Than Be a … Jew’: Belgian Soccer Star in Shocking Chant After Team Wins National Title
Belgium was roiled in a controversy over antisemitism on Friday after video of a top soccer player leading supporters in singing an antisemitic song went viral.
Noa Lange, who plays for Club Brugge, was filmed in raucous scenes that followed his team winning the Belgian national title this season. Lange led overjoyed fans in chants of “I’d Rather Die Than Be a Sporting Jew” — a derogatory reference to Brugge’s rivals Anderlecht, who are often derided by hostile supporters as a “Jewish” club.
Yet despite a new mood to oppose racism in European soccer — with players in leagues across the continent symbolically taking a knee before games as an anti-racist gesture — Club Brugge’s management issued a statement firmly backing Lange and offering no apology for the antisemitic chant.
“Brugge supporters are called ‘nags,’ Mechelen supporters are called ‘bourges,’ Genk supporters are called ‘smurfs’ and supporters of RSC Anderlecht are called ‘Jews,'” a club statement declared.
“These are all nicknames that are adopted by the supporters of these teams,” the statement added. “There is absolutely nothing antisemitic about Noa Lange singing with our supporters on Thursday evening after we won the national title.”
If anyone was offended, this was unintentional, the club insisted. “Noa didn’t want to hurt or offend anyone in any way. The whole great family of Club Brugge now hopes to continue celebrating our title in a positive way,” it said.
Belgium’s professional soccer league took a different view, however.
“Racism and antisemitism have no place in our society,” said a statement from the Pro-League on Friday. “Chants that target groups of the population must no longer be trivialized.”
One Belgian senator called for Club Brugge and the Belgian soccer authorities to subject Lang to a disciplinary process.
“I await an explanation and an apology from Noa Lange and sanctions at the level of Club Brugge and the Royal Belgian Football Association,” Georges-Louis Bouchez, who represents the liberal MR Party in the Belgian Senate, said in a statement.