Antwerp police start investigation into football supporters who chant ‘Sieg Heil’

Antwerp police start investigation into football supporters who chant ‘Sieg Heil’
Photo from Belga

Antwerp police are launching an investigation into football fans who shouted anti-Semitic chants during a football match between Beerschot and Anderlecht on Sunday.

The songs in question originated in Dutch football stadiums and are directed against Ajax, a club founded by Amsterdam Jews, according to De Morgen.

“Our father was in the Gestapo, our mother was in the SS, and together they burned Jews, because Jews burn best. Sieg Heil,” Beerschot supporters were chanting.

“Hamas, Hamas, alle Joden aan het gas (Hamas, all Jews should be gassed),” was also sung Sunday evening during the annual Christmas drink of supporters at a café on the Kiel, on the sidelines of the match against Anderlecht.

Some friendly fans of Club Brugge and Groningen FC were invited and sang along, and the scene was filmed and then shared widely on social media.

A long history of anti-Semitism

In Belgium, the chants have been copied and directed against Antwerp, who use ‘Jews’ as their nickname, and, to a lesser extent, against Anderlecht, whose hard core of supporters maintain friendly ties with those of Ajax.

Football club Beerschot “completely distances itself from these chants,” said its vice president Walter Damen.

“Beerschot emphasises that there is no place for racist statements in or outside the stadium. We also wish to make it clear to the Jewish population that there is no place for such hooligans.”

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Anti-Semitic slogans and songs, however, have long been an issue for the club. The matter has been discussed many times during the monthly Antwerp council meeting.

In November 2020, a Beerschot fan was punished for anti-Semitism for the first time after calling on Facebook to sing the anti-Semitic song during a match. According to the Interfederal Equal Opportunities Centre Unia, he also posted hateful messages about Jews.

The man in question had already been the subject of an official report after making the Nazi salute during a Beerschot match against Eupen. At the time, the judge considered the facts proven and sentenced the accused to 50 hours of community service.

Anti-Semitism on the rise in Belgium

Unia says that it will also follow up this newest case closely.

According to Unia, in 2020 there were a total of 115 acts of anti-Semitism and/or negationism (also called denialism, in this case of the Holocaust) in Belgium.

That’s an increase of 45.5% compared to 2019 and of 56% compared to the average of the past five years.

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