Top English Soccer Team Arsenal Celebrates New Jewish Fan Club With Party at Home Stadium
by Shiryn Ghermezian
The English Premier League soccer team Arsenal celebrated its new official club for Jewish supporters, called Jewish Gooners, with a party at Emirates Stadium on Sunday ahead of the team’s game against Brighton & Hove Albion.
A banner for Jewish Gooners, which features a Star of David, was also unveiled inside the stadium for the first time, according to Arsenal. The celebration was attended by roughly 70 Arsenal supporters, legendary former Arsenal player Perry Groves and Lord John Mann, the British government’s independent advisor on antisemitism.
Arsenal announced the launch of Jewish Gooners in April as a method to combat antisemitism, and also to provide an outlet for Jewish Arsenal supporters to express and celebrate their cultural identity.
“A group of us have been going to games together for years,” said Jewish Gooners committee member Barry Frankfurt, as cited on the Arsenal website. He added that the soccer team “has always been a community for us and we’ve always felt welcome here. We’ve met people from different backgrounds that we’d never meet otherwise in life thanks to going to Arsenal, home and away.
“We decided it would be fantastic to merge some areas of our Jewish heritage and our love for the club and we’re excited to work together with Arsenal to celebrate our identity. It was brilliant to bring so many of us together to officially launch our group. It was a proud moment when we saw our banner inside the Emirates for the first time.”
Speaking at the launch event on Sunday, Lord Mann said: “It’s fantastic to see Arsenal and their community of Jewish supporters working together in this special way. Football has a unique power to unite communities and Arsenal and Jewish Gooners are setting the example for others to follow. I’m looking forward to seeing what they can achieve together, and I’m delighted to support them on their journey.”
Arsenal CEO Vinai Venkatesham presented the fan group with a “Jewish Gooners 23” T-shirt and Executive Vice Chair Tim Lewis invited Jewish Gooners members pitchside ahead of the team’s kick-off against Brighton & Hove Albion.
Vinai said at the event, “We’re proud to have Jewish Gooners as part of our family. Our aim is to make everyone feel welcome at Arsenal and we’re looking forward to working together and supporting each other as we continue our work to celebrate and champion our diverse communities.”