British Premier League Soccer Team Arsenal Launches Jewish Fan Group to Address Antisemitism Among Supporters
by Shiryn Ghermezian
The English Premier League soccer team Arsenal launched this month a new fan group called Jewish Gooners as part of the club’s efforts to combat antisemitism.
“Jewish Gooners exists to provide a social group for Jewish Arsenal fans to meet up in a safe and welcoming environment,” according to the club’s Instagram bio. Gooners is a nickname for Arsenal fans and the team already has a fan club called Gay Gooners for supporters who are part of the LGBT+ community.
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Arsenal has banned a total of 31 members and season ticket holders for abusive or discriminatory actions, online and in stadiums, since the start of the 2021/22 season in its “ongoing drive against abuse and discrimination,” the London-based team announced on Monday. The supporters have been given three-year bans and cannot attend any Arsenal home or away match during that time. However, they can reduce the length of their ban if they attend a one-to-one education program run by Kick It Out, an organization that focuses on tackling discrimination in soccer.
“We take all forms of abuse and discrimination extremely seriously – whether online or in and around the stadium,” said Arsenal CEO Vinai Venkatesham. “While we are talking about a tiny minority of our supporter base, we must continue to take strong action against abusers who are identified as Arsenal season ticket holders or members, including escalating to the police where appropriate.
“Our aim is to create an environment at Arsenal where everybody feels welcome, and we hope this action serves as a deterrent for those using abusive, threatening, and discriminatory language.”
Arsenal’s main rival, Tottenham, has a large Jewish fanbase who identify themselves as the “Yid army.” As a result, many Arsenal fans have created anti-Tottenham songs and chants that include antisemitic remarks.
In January, a Jewish Arsenal fan faced antisemitic abuse and was called a “dirty f__king yid” as she watched an Arsenal vs Tottenham game at a bar in the United Kingdom. She was verbally harassed and threatened by fellow Arsenal fans when she asked them not to chant an offensive anti-Jewish slur. The bar’s manager then allegedly asked her to leave as Arsenal fans chanted “go home, Yiddo.”