CENTRE SIMON WIESENTHAL - EUROPE
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"UEFA must ensure that forthcoming EURO 2012 Games in Poland and Ukraine are racism free"
Paris, 1 March, In a letter to UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) President, Michel Platini, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre's Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, expressed "shock at the intensity of anti-Semitic taunts last Sunday towards Israeli player, Itay Schechter, at a training match of his current club, Kaiserslautern, following its 4-0 defeat by Mainz."
Samuels stressed that "the abuse included 'Seig Heil' salutes, 'Heil Hitler' and chants of 'Join the 6 million' (i.e. Holocaust victims)."
The letter noted that "the family of Schechter being Holocaust survivors from Romania, he drew attention when he donned a 'Kippa' skullcap and briefly prayed midfield, on scoring his game-winning goal during a 2010 UEFA Champions League match against Red Bull Saltzburg," adding, "he later explained that the 'kippa' was given to him by a Tel Aviv fan suffering from cancer and the gesture marked a vindication on Austrian soil against its Nazi past."
The letter pointed out that "though the German Football Association has expressed concern at the incident, the police have not marked this as a hate crime, though Nazi symbols and salutes are strictly banned in Germany. Moreover, since the recent exposure of the National Socialist Underground murders and the resurgence of neo-Nazism in that country and across Europe, there is even more reason for urgent action."
The letter emphasized to Platini that "as we approach the June EURO 2012 in Poland and Ukraine, we believe that the case of Kaiserslautern requires exemplary attention".
"We urge UEFA to call on its German affiliates to rapidly prosecute the perpetrators of this outrage and all such hatemongers. UEFA must also ensure that forthcoming EURO games are free of racism," concluded Samuels.
For further information, contact Dr. Shimon Samuels at +336 09770158, join the Center on Facebook, www.facebook.com/simonwiesenthalcenter, or follow @simonwiesenthal for news updates sent direct to your Twitter page or mobile device.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400.000 members. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the Council of Europe, the OAS and the Latin American Parliament.