London police are investigating anti-Semitic tweets, featuring references to the Holocaust and to Auschwitz, posted by rival fans of local soccer teams Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur in the last few days.
The Metropolitan Police was informed about numerous such messages, a spokesman said Tuesday, following Saturday’s FA Cup game between the two London teams. Arsenal won the game 2-0, but one of its star players was badly injured and stretchered off. As Theo Walcott was carried off the field, he and the medical personnel carrying him were pelted with coins and bottles by Tottenham supporters, as a smiling Walcott gestured “2″ and “0″ with his fingers, infuriating the Tottenham fans.
Tottenham, also known as Spurs, has many Jewish fans, and the Guardian reported Tuesday that “its supporters have been taunted with messages about Nazi death chambers” on Twitter.
“We’re aware of antisemitic messages posted on Twitter following Arsenal v Tottenham on Saturday 4 January – an assessment is under way,” said the police spokesman.
The probe comes days after top French soccer player Nicolas Anelka made what is regarded as a neo-Nazi-style, anti-Semitic “quenelle” salute to celebrate scoring a goal for his West Bromwich Albion team in the English Premier League. That matter is under investigation by the Football Association.
Last month, three British men were arrested for posting anti-Semitic comments on Twitter following a soccer match in October. Those tweets, too, allegedly referred to Hitler and gas chambers, and followed a match between Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United.
Tottenham supporters often chant “Yid Army” and “Yiddo” at matches, using a term deemed offensive by some in the Jewish community. Fan groups say the term is used as a badge of honor rather and is not a derogatory remark. The Football Association and police have warned that using the word “Yid” could lead to prosecution.
Walcott tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in Saturday’s match, and will be sidelined for at least six months, “missing the remainder of the season and the World Cup in Brazil in the summer,” Arsenal said.
The Football Association contacted Walcott “and reminded him of his responsibilities regarding a ‘scoreline’ gesture he made” but will not be taking any further disciplinary action against him.
AP and JTA contributed to this report.