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Arsenal investigating fans for anti-Semitism during game against Tottenham

London soccer club vows to ban supporters who display ‘discriminatory or violent behavior,’ will push for prosecution of fans behind latest incidents

Tottenham Hotspur supporters are seen at the stands during the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool at Wembley Stadium on October 22, 2017 in London, England.  ( David Ramos/Getty Images via JTA)
Tottenham Hotspur supporters are seen at the stands during the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool at Wembley Stadium on October 22, 2017 in London, England. ( David Ramos/Getty Images via JTA)

English soccer club Arsenal said it was investigating alleged anti-Semitic behavior by its fans following the team’s win over London rivals Tottenham earlier this week.

Photos and videos from Emirates Stadium showed an Arsenal supporter making an anti-Semitic gesture at a Tottenham fan during Wednesday’s game, while reports in British media said another fan was kicked out for chanting about “gassing Jews.”

In a statement Thursday, the club said it was investigating the incidents and would press for criminal charges against the perpetrators.

“We do not tolerate any anti-social, discriminatory or violent behavior at Arsenal Football Club,” the statement said. “Anyone identified will receive a lengthy club ban and their details will be passed to the police to commence legal proceedings.”

Tottenham traditionally has a large fan base among London’s Jewish community and some opposing fans regularly direct anti-Semitic abuse at supporters of the team.

The incident came days after another London soccer club, Chelsea, announced an investigation into a group of fans who were heard chanting anti-Semitic slogans about Tottenham supporters at a game earlier this month. A group of fans at the Europa League game against Vidi in Budapest were also photographed holding a banner with a Nazi insignia.

Police, the Premier League club and the European governing body UEFA said they was investigating the chants, as well another incident of racist abuse by Chelsea fans directed at Manchester City’s Jamaican-born player Raheem Sterling during a recent game.

In this February 13, 2018 photo, Chelsea FC chairman Bruce Buck speaks during the Qatar National Sports Day 2018 event at Stamford Bridge Stadium, in London. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland, File)

Chelsea suspended four supporters pending the investigations into the incidents.

On Tuesday, Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck blamed a “deeply unpleasant but vocal minority” for shaming the soccer club’s fans, in an open letter addressing recent incidents of abuse.

“After recent events, I wanted to take this opportunity to reach out to our community and fans to condemn the actions of a few mindless individuals at some of our recent matches,” Buck said in the letter published on the club’s website.

“These actions are unacceptable and unwelcome both in our club and in football.”

He said the club “must all come together to stamp out these ugly scenes,” listing a number of initiatives that Chelsea has been involved in to tackle discrimination.

Chelsea English Premier League soccer fans from the ‘headhunters,’ an extremist fan group known for hooliganism, in Budapest on December 13, 2018, holding a banner with a depiction of the SS-Totenkopf, a skull and bones graphic used by the Nazis. (Twitter screen capture)

“If you do not share these values, this is not the club for you,” he said.

In January, Chelsea launched a campaign to raise awareness and educate about anti-Semitism in soccer, and the club — including its Russian-Israeli owner Roman Abramovich, who is Jewish — has expressed disgust at the anti-Semitic chants.

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