New Israel Fund reports success: Racism in Israeli Football Falls 39%27 June 2011

New Israel Fund's (NIF) Let's Kick Racism Out of Israeli Football campaign has completed activities for the 2010/11 season – its eighth year of activities. NIF's observers reported an impressive 39% fall in racist chanting over the season and found that much of this reduction can be explained by a growing phenomena – supporters booing and silencing their fellow fans who behave in a racist way.

NIF observers reported only 49 incidents of racist incitement and chanting against players from minorities or Black players at Israeli premier League matches in the 2010/11 season compared with 80 incidents in the preceding season.

Raised awareness
NIF observers also reported an 18% rise in actions taken by fans to silence racist behavior by their fellow fans. These counter-racist actions are a direct result of the raised media and educational awareness generated by NIF's activities, which include legislation outlawing racist behavior in sports stadia that was promoted by NIF.

Fair Play Award
Hapoel Haifa had the country's best behaved fans and received the NIF-Israel Football Association Fair Play Award – an event featured prominently in the Israeli media.

Maccabi Tel Aviv and Beitar Jerusalem had the worst behaved fans and were together responsible for 94% of racist incidents. However, there were encouraging signs when Beitar chairman Itzik Kornfein launched a personal campaign to root out racism at his club.

Abbas Suan, the former Israeli international and Bnei Sakhnin captain said, “I personally take my hat off to Itzik Kornfein over his stand on racism, tolerance and desire to change things. I think that signing players of Israel's Arab minority at many clubs in recent years has Israel FA Chairman Avi Luzon said that despite the significant fall in racism over the past season the Israel FA would not rest until there were “zero incidents.” He said, “We will achieve this by a combination of education and punishing clubs whose fans are involved in racism.”

Player's responsibilty
Maccabi Haifa captain Yaniv Katan said, “We players have the responsibility of showing the younger players the way forward in playing fair football. It's true that victory is the goal but violence and hatred of the other are not means to achieve this. Over the years at Maccabi Haifa I've played alongside players from all the country's religious communities and on the pitch we are all equal. I'm proud to captain a team that promotes education for fairness, tolerance and excellence.”