Wiesenthal Center Welcomes Punishment of Hungary by FIFA for Anti-Semitic Behavior of Hungarian Fans in August 2012 Match Against Israel in Budapest

January 9, 2013

Jerusalem-The Simon Wiesenthal Center today praised the steps taken earlier this week by the international football federation (FIFA) to punish the Hungarian Football Federation in the wake of the anti-Semitic behavior of many dozens of Hungarian fans at a friendly match against Israel held this past August 15 in Budapest. As the Israeli national anthem was being played, numerous Hungarian fans started yelling anti-Semitic insults at the Israeli players, including cries of "Dirty Jews," "Auschwitz," and "Buchenwald," and then turned their backs on the field to show their lack of respect for Israel. FIFA announced that they were fining the Hungarian Football Federation $40,000 US dollars and that Hungary would be forced to play its next home match in the World Cup qualifying round against Romania this coming March 15 without any fans in attendance.

In a statement issued here today by its Israel director and chief Nazi-hunter Dr. Efraim Zuroff, the Center praised the decision and noted its importance in the ongoing fight against anti-Semitism and racism, not only in sports, but in society at large as well.

According to Zuroff:
"It is a shame that FIFA had to resort to such steps, but given the continuing rise in anti-Semitic and racist incidents not only on the playing field, but elsewhere as well, the punishment meted out in response to the anti-Semitic behavior of those who wax nostalgic for Nazi concentration camps, where hundreds of thousands of innocent Jews and other enemies of the Third Reich were brutally murdered, was definitely warranted and appropriate. It is only by taking swift and resolute action against the anti-Semites and racists that such phenomena can be reduced and hopefully eliminated."

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The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (PARLATINO).