UK Soccer Fans Who Sang Antisemitic Taunt on Flight to Belgium Escape Prosecution
The case against two London soccer fans who harassed a Jewish fellow passenger on a flight to Belgium with an antisemitic song collapsed on Tuesday as prosecutors found themselves unable to determine whether the incident took place in British airspace.
Lee Carey, 55, and Jak Bruce, 31, denied a public order offense after they were filmed singing antisemitic slurs as an Orthodox Jewish passenger walked past them on the RyanAir flight to Brussels in Nov. 2021. Their song — directed at West Ham’s London rivals Tottenham Hotspur, who are regarded in English soccer folklore as a “Jewish” club — mocked the Jewish religious practice of circumcision, ending with the taunt, “I’ve got foreskin, haven’t you?”
The two fans were traveling to watch London Premier League side West Ham United in a UEFA Europa League match against Belgian club Genk.
In their initial court appearance in May, Carey and Bruce made a joint submission for the case to be dismissed. Lawyers for the pair both argued the court had no jurisdiction over the incident under the Civil Aviation Act.
The case was then adjourned as the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) considered the request. On Tuesday, a spokesperson for the CPS told broadcaster Sky Sports News that “there was insufficient evidence to prove that the alleged offenses took place in British airspace and therefore within remit of our courts.”
The spokesperson added that the “CPS takes racism, homophobia, and antisemitism in sport extremely seriously because of the devastating impact it has on victims and wider society. Where there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest, we will prosecute these cases. We are working with sporting bodies and the police to advise them on the evidence required to build strong cases so that offenders can be brought to justice.”
In the immediate aftermath of the incident, West Ham United said it was “appalled by the contents of the video circulating on social media and condemn the behavior of the individuals involved.” The club’s manager, David Moyes, also condemned the incident, saying, “We don’t want to be associated with supporters like this.”