Racism in football on the rise again

Racism in football increased by more than 20% this year according to statistics from anti-discrimination charity Kick It Out.

Discrimination in both grassroots and elite football increased, with 520 complaints in 2017/18, an 11% rise from 469 the previous year. Of those incidents, 10% concerned antisemitism.

Joel Nathan, a coach at Jewish football club Brady Maccabi, believes the abuse reflects growing intolerance in wider society.

"It's something that has risen over the last few seasons," he told Sky News. "Being a chairman of a club that has 22 teams, we've seen a lot of abuse.

"I think it's mainly due to what people read in the newspapers, they think it's okay to happen and then all of a sudden they get carried away and start doing it.

"Last season we had a very big case and this season we've already had 3 or 4 that I've had to report to the FA."

Image: Brady Maccabi coach Joel Nathan says incidents of racism are on the rise

Brady Maccabi is an offshoot of the Maccabi youth movement which was formed in 1929 to encourage physical activity in Jewish communities.

At that point Jewish people were banned from joining sporting clubs in some countries. Brady Maccabi players have reported anti-Semitic abuse to the FA.

"I was playing for the U16s/17s and we were playing a team that we've had a bit of rivalry with and we know are a bit tough and a bit physical which we don't mind," Brady Maccabi player, Joel Freedman, told Sky News.

"It got worse and they just kept on going, bringing up Jewish things that had happened in the past.

"After the game on Instagram and social media, one of their players managed to find some of our players," Freedman added.

"They got added to a group and their team were throwing antisemitic comments at us and saying how Hitler was right and the gas chambers were a good thing and we should all get gassed."

Joel Freedman says one opposition team posted on social media that Hitler had been right
Image: Joel Freedman says one opposition team posted on social media that Hitler had been right

There have only been 12 Jewish players in the history of the Premier League. Scott Kashket has had a successful professional career and now plays for Wycombe in League One. But he fears that, in the past, being Jewish has held him back.

"When you know you've done nothing wrong and people are pushing you to the side and you know you've not done anything wrong, you've been respectful, it's not like you're playing bad and you can't play for whatever reason," he said.

"It gets you thinking 'is this all because of what religion I am?'"

Scott Kashket
Image: Scott Kashket believes his career has suffered because of his religon

The anti-discrimination charity Kick It Out is working with clubs and fans' groups to help combat antisemitism. Chairman Lord Ouseley said: "Nothing will beat education and re-education.

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"It needs to come earlier in the school life of young people and we need to have our leaders, the influencers in our society of opinion to be much more robust in how they conduct themselves," he added

"How they become the exemplars and how they actually reject that sort of conduct in building a cohesive society."

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