Kicking racism and violence out of the football grounds, is a project introduced in Israel about 15 years ago, in keeping with similar projects in other countries and especially in England. It was supported by UEFA, the Union of European Football Associations, the Israeli Football Union and local teams. The project included activities for the advancement of joint communal activities, tolerance, equality and acceptance of “the other” at Israeli football matches. Naturally, participating are players from all segments of Israel’s population and this was ground for the promotion of positive values.
In Israel, the project is led by Gal Karpel convener of the “Kicking racism and violence out of the football grounds”, supported by the “New Israel Fund”. Prior to his running the project over the past four years, Gal was a sports journalist who has written profusely about the struggle against racism in sport.
The “Kicking racism and violence out of the football grounds” project follows reports on the subject and how this can be eradicated. A number of volunteer observers attend games and report acts of racism or violence as well as positive acts. This has been going on for about ten years, leading to a large number of such reports, most of which have been dealt with. An example of the functioning of these volunteers was the report filed on 25 November 2018 of a match between the Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Hadera teams, when during a short service in memory of the persons murdered by a terrorist in the Barkan factory in the West Bank, many of the crowd shouted, “Let the IDF humiliate and F*** the Arabs”. This outburst was recorded by one of the volunteer observers and reported to the project organizers
Another example was the more positive report of the call prior to a match between Maccabi Netanya and the team from the Arab town of Saknin: “Let us make sport the binding factor between us, of true coexistence, as we are all equal”. At this call, the majority of the crowd clapped hands.
Other activities of the “Kicking racism and violence out of the football grounds” project are football games involving persons with special needs, games and discussion panels stressing women in football, games between Arabs and Jews at events devoted to denigrating racism. Another example was when in October 2018 a Jewish-Arab football tournament was held in the municipal stadium in the Arab town of Taybe as part of an international campaign sponsored by UEFA, the Union of European Football Associations.
Another activity initiated by the “Kicking racism and violence out of the football grounds” is a group of 14 male and female Israeli players whose agenda is to stress the idea of positive attitudes to “others” and to deprecate racism and violence. This group is called “the team for advocating social responsibility” bringing to football supporters a positive aspect of the game. Members of this group organize discussion panels in schools during the season, attend tournaments and bring sport to persons with disabilities. They try to advance women’s sport and communication between Jews and Arabs on the football grounds, all supported by the Israel Football Association.
The idea of social responsibility in football is carried out together with FARE, the Israel football union, a subsidiary organization of the European Union for the prevention of racism in European football. A tournament was held a,ong Jews and Arab boys and girls from Taybeh, Pardasiah, Kalansua, Kfar Yonah, Kfar Saba and Netanya.
Attending the tournament was Shua Mansour Masarwa, the Mayor of Taybeh, David Meyers, the President of the New Israel Fund, a delegation from Switzerland, and players from the top grade of Israeli football. Some photos of this event are shown here.
בתמונות חברי הנבחרת: אשרת עיני, מהראן ראדי, שרן ייני, אורן כהן ואמייה טגה.
הנבחרת באירוע לבעוט את ההומופוביה מהכדורגל
During the past five years, the project has supported training of players from clubs on a regular two week basis in a program called “Teams of Equality”. An example of this is the training in Jerusalem of Jewish players from Hapoel Yerushalayim and Arabs from the Beit Safafa clubs. Training is carried out by Jewish and Arab trainers giving instructions in their own language. In November 2018, 30 third and fourth grade children from these clubs began the season’s training. For the first time, teams of girls from these two clubs trained together.
All these programs supported by the “Kicking racism and violence out of the football grounds” projects enable young Jews and Arabs in Israel to learn about each other’s communities, stressing the need for understanding, readiness to accept “others” by playing and competing in football matches.