TEHRAN, May 30 (MNA) -- Racism is a repugnant trait and we should all adopt zero tolerance towards it, whenever and wherever it arises.

It is a blight which still rears its ugly head during soccer matches but all the major organizations that police the ‘beautiful game’ these days are universal in their desire to kick racism off the pitch and out of the terraces. And there have been times when clubs, as well as players and their supporters, have been heavily penalized for failing to do so.


FIFA President Sepp Blatter is probably the most senior and influential figure governing football today. He is one of the most versatile and experienced exponents of international sports diplomacy and is totally committed to serving football, FIFA, and the youth of the world. So it will be interesting to see how he reacts to my official complaint about a recent case of blatant racism which has been brought to my attention.


The offenders this time appear to be players of Betar Jerusalem and among them also members of the Israeli national team who joined in the racist chants of the fans.


This is written on the web site of the Israeli TV station Channel 2 and one can see there also the report about the incident on www.mako.co.il.


On May 26, Channel 2 cameras photographed Betar players, among them the star Amit Ben Shoshan, singing very happily, after they won the Israeli cup, a song popular among their fans.


A song that goes like this: “What’s Salim doing here? Don’t you know? What’s going on here I ask? Everywhere I hear that this is the land of Israel, Toama, this is the land of Israel. This is the land of Israel, Toama… I hate you Salim Toama! I hate all Arabs!”


The chanting was directed at Salim Toama, who is an Arab soccer player with Israeli citizenship. He plays on the Israeli national team and is now making his living in Belgium.


The international governing body of football, FIFA, in accordance with its anti-racism campaign, should ban Betar and the involved players from participating in any international activities as well as impose a heavy fine.


This is not the first report on Betar racism. This club and especially its fans are considered to be the most racist in Israel.


By the way, the whistleblower who brought this to my attention is a European Jew who is repulsed by any form of racism regardless of its origins, so any Zionists reading this can stop crying ‘anti-Semite’.


Declaring to the world from a football pitch, from the terraces, or from anywhere else that “I hate all Arabs” is racist. And if you think it isn’t, then substitute Arab for any faith, skin color, or nationality and see how it sounds then.


If you feel as offended as I do, then lodge your complaint to Mr. Blatter at http://www.fifa.com/contact/validate.htm and urge FIFA to take action.


And you can also complain to a British organization called Kick It Out, which is part of the Football Association’s campaign to stop racism from spoiling one of the greatest games in the world. Contact info@kickitout.org and let them know how you feel.


This behavior is unacceptable and the Israeli football authorities, and this club in particular, should be severely penalized. If we are serious about kicking racism out of football no one should be exempt, not even the Israelis.


Yvonne Ridley is a member of the RESPECT Party in England as well as a journalist and broadcaster. She presents a weekly political show called The Agenda on Press TV (www.presstv.com)


(May 31 Tehran Times Perspective Column, by Yvonne Ridley)





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