“Hate will only be tackled in our society when we all take responsibility.”
Two supporters of the UK football club West Ham have been arrested and suspended by the club after being filmed harassing a Jewish man with antisemitic slurs on a flight to Belgium.
The incident occurred as passengers boarded a RyanAir plane in London. A group of supporters of West Ham, who were traveling to Belgium for a Europa League game, began chanting an antisemitic song as they watched a Haredi man walking down the aisle to his seat.
The 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?”
Sky Sports reported that a 55-year-old man was arrested on Friday in connection with the incident after footage of it was posted on social media. On Saturday, a further arrest was made when a 26-year-old man was detained by Essex police. Police are investigating the suspects for involvement in a hate crime.
Both men have now been suspended by the club.
West Ham 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, said, “I have to say first of all that I don’t see our football club being like that. We are a diverse football club. There’s no room for discrimination anywhere.”
“We don’t want to be associated with supporters like this,” he added.
Marie van der Zyl, President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, commented, “This is a particularly horrible example of a Jewish man being subjected to abuse and humiliation. Thankfully, the culprits have been captured on social media.”
“West Ham have set exactly the right example – hate will only be tackled in our society when we all take responsibility, as West Ham have done in promising to impose lifetime bans,” she added.