Jews complain of football match anti-Semitism

  • 2002-08-29

Lithuania's Jewish community expressed outrage last week over anti-Semitic chants by local football fans during a friendly match between the Lithuanian and Israeli national teams.

"Such incidents do not contribute to Lithuania's image on its way to NATO and the EU," said Simonas Alperavicius, chairman of the local Jewish community, in a statement.

The national football federation and the public should condemn such incidents, he added.

During the Aug. 21 game in the central Lithuanian city of Kaunas, local fans waved Palestinian flags and held up posters with the name of Hamas, a militant organization accused of having carried out suicide attacks against Israeli civilians.

The fans also chanted the Nazi slogan "Juden raus" (Jews out) and another referring to the murder of Jews in a Kaunas blockhouse during World War II.

"This has already become a pattern as such incidents occur every time when Israeli teams are playing in Lithuania," Alperavicius said.

The Lithuanian Football Federation has already been fined for a similar incident last year when Kaunas Zalgiris was playing against Macabi from Tel Aviv.

The federation had to pay 10,000 Swiss francs (6,800 euros) and later publicly apologized to the Jewish community.

The head of the Lithuanian Football Federation rejected complaints regarding the match, however.

"This is a problem of one person who wants to represent all of the Jewish community," Liutauras Varanauskas was quoted as saying by the Baltic News Service.

He said the Israeli team did not complain about the fans.