Former English FA Chairman says he encountered anti-Semitism22 October 2013

TheformerEnglishFAPresidentLordDavidTriesmanindicatedearlierthismonththathewasthevictimofanti-SemiticcommentsatFifameetingsduringhisthreeyearsasheadoftheEnglishFA.

Speaking before the opening of ‘Four Four Jew’, the London Jewish Museum’s exhibition on the Jewish relationship with football, Triesman disclosed that he had heard similar disparaging remarks aimed towards black delegates at the same meetings.

Triesman, asked whether he had felt like “the only Jew in the room” at Fifa sessions, said “Yes, I have actually.”

“It is not because I go around looking for anti-Semitism. It is usually because somebody has made a comment that he believed was funny, or that was maybe intended to be harsh, and I have thought: ‘I’m the only person who is supposed to be the object of that critical remark.’

“You kind of gulp”
“It just happens. I have seen it done to black people, on the occasions when they might be the only black person in the room. When it happens you kind of gulp.”

In 2003 the head of the Argentine FA Julio Grondona was asked why there were no Jewish top-flight referees in Argentina said: “I do not believe a Jew can ever be a referee at this level. It’s hard work, and Jews don’t like hard work.”

Jack Warner, the disgraced former vice-president forced to resign in 2012, blamed his removal from the world governing body on “Zionism”.

Triesman, now a foreign affairs spokesman in the House of Lords after stepping down from the FA in 2011, argued: “I see no point in letting this sort of stuff pass, and if you get the great good luck to be the first independent chairman of the FA, you don’t allow it, because you finally get the opportunity to say that it’s not right.”

Lord Triesman

Image of Jews post-war
The 69-year-old was joined at the  ‘Four Four Jew’ launch on Wednesday night by Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger and David Bernstein, who succeeded Triesman as chairman of the FA.

Triesman said: “The imagery of the Jewish postwar generation is of a people who were emaciated, herded up and terrified, who didn’t look as if they could stand up themselves.

“But this exhibition is full of evidence of people who were totally confident of their physical as well as their intellectual capabilities. To me that is really important. We are not to be stereotyped in the ways that are so easy.”

‘Y word’ debate
Bernstein also added to the escalating debate over Tottenham supporters’ chanting of the word ‘Yid’, saying he endorsed the Prime Minister’s view that fans ought not to be prosecuted after one arrest was made at Sunday’s match with West Ham at White Hart Lane.

“Do I like the Y-word being used? No, of course I don’t,” he said. “Do I find it offensive? Yes, I do. However, in the case of the Spurs supporters, it is used with a sense of ownership and pride, and a lack of malicious intent. It is something that is not fundamentally acceptable, but which is used in a sympathetic way.”

From The Telegraph