Kick racism out of Israeli football update22 January 2010

Maccabi Netanya fans have been awarded 1000 euros worth of football merchandise for being the Israeli Premier League's fairest fans in the first half of the 2009/10 season. The prize was awarded by the New Israeli Fund's (NIF) KIO Israel campaign, Israel FA, Israel ministry of public security (metzila) and the Ministry of Education. Maccabi Netanya's fans scored the best performance in NIF's weekly index of racist and violent behaviour by fans.

Maccabi Netranya President Daniel Jammer proudly said, “There is no doubt that this trend of improved behaviour will continue.”

Israel FA CEO Ori Shilo said, ,“We do not want to set up disciplinary committees for violence and racist behaviour by fans, we want to give out prizes like this.”

NIF's Kick Racism Out of Football in Israel campaign's Observers Forum saw a sharp improvement in the behaviour of fans in the first half of the 2009/10 season. In particular, there are more pro-active measures being taken by fans. NIF found a 60% increase in fans reprimanding other fans for racist chants, and a 27% increase in initiatives by fans to tackle racism. Betar Jerusalem's fans remain by the far the most racist in the country with 76% of racist incidents attributable to supporters of the club.

In December NIF KIO Israel organised a panel discussion in cooperation with the Haifa Municipality on racism in soccer. The event was modelled on a similarly successful panel meeting in Jerusalem last month. Four Arab and Jewish stars from Maccabi Haifa and Hapoel Haifa spoke to an audience of Arab and Jewish youth from the city's soccer teams.

The statement by Israeli Arab international and Maccabi Haifa star Biram Kayal that he would be happy to become the first ever Arab to play for Betar Jerusalem grabbed major media headlines, just as in November's discussion in Jerusalem. when Betar captain Aviram Beruchyian's statement that he would be happy to see an Arab at his club, was featured prominently by the media.