The Canadian Football League fined a star football player Thursday after he was accused of posting anti-Semitic and anti-Israel content on his Twitter account.
Montreal Alouettes defensive lineman Khalif Mitchell was fined an undisclosed amount for posting messages which the CFL said violated its social media policy.
“There is absolutely no place in our league for commentary used to divide or disparage others along the lines of sex, race, religion or sexual orientation,” CFL commissioner Jeffrey Orridge said.
The CFL probe was launched after the Canadian branch of Jewish advocacy group B’nai B’rith lodged a complaint against Mitchell, saying he has been using social media to promote Holocaust denial and conspiracy theories connecting Israel and the Islamic State.
“As an all-star and role model for Canadian youth, Mr. Mitchell should not be sending out divisive and hateful tweets under the banner of the Montreal Alouettes organization,” Michael Mostyn, CEO of B’nai B’rith Canada said in a statement Thursday.
Orridge appeared to agree.
“While we acknowledge that players have a right to hold and express their own opinions, in no circumstance do we condone activity or comments that are derogatory or inappropriate, putting the League’s reputation in question,” he said, “and we feel Mr. Mitchell’s recent posts on social media have violated these principles.”
Mitchell had tweeted a link to a YouTube video titled “The greatest lie ever told – The Holocaust,” a 75-minute documentary which references the Holocaust as the “alleged murder” of six million Jews.
He also retweeted posts suggesting Israeli intelligence was behind the Islamic State extremist group.
Sam Eskenasi, a spokesperson for B’nai B’rith, told The Toronto Star that the group had received a complaint a few weeks ago about “bizarre postings and outlandish conspiracy theories” on the star player’s account.
He said he had alerted the CFL and the management of the Montreal team, but that he did not receive a response, so they decided to go public with their concerns.
This is not the first time Mitchell has gotten in trouble for comments posted on social media. In 2012, he was fined for violating the league’s social media policy after he used derogatory terms against people of Chinese descent.
“It is surprising that given his past misbehavior on twitter these public postings have gone unnoticed by the Alouettes,” Mostyn said.
“In the modern age we are free to disagree with the actions of police or government, however directing hate towards men and women in uniform, coupled with his numerous repostings of Holocaust denial videos, have crossed the line and are beyond the pale.”