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UEFA investigating antisemitic abuse at Maccabi match in Nazi-built stadium

European soccer body appoints ethics inspector to probe claims; Union Berlin supporter tried to burn small Israeli flag, another repeatedly shouted ‘Sieg Heil’

Israel's Maccabi Haifa fans display Israeli flags in the stands, during the UEFA Conference League Group E first leg football match between FC Union Berlin and Maccabi Haifa in the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, on September 30, 2021. (Matthias Koch/DPA/AFP/Germany Out)
Israel's Maccabi Haifa fans display Israeli flags in the stands, during the UEFA Conference League Group E first leg football match between FC Union Berlin and Maccabi Haifa in the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, on September 30, 2021. (Matthias Koch/DPA/AFP/Germany Out)

BERLIN, Germany — European soccer’s governing body UEFA said on Tuesday that they are investigating allegations Union Berlin fans hurled antisemitic abuse at visiting supporters of Israeli champion Maccabi Haifa during a Europa Conference League match last week.

Union won last Thursday’s game 3-0 at Berlin’s Nazi-era built Olympic Stadium, but the German club later apologized, with their president Dirk Zingler branding their supporters’ behavior as “shameful and intolerable.”

UEFA said that an “Ethics and Disciplinary Inspector has been appointed to conduct a disciplinary investigation regarding potential discriminatory incidents.”

Berlin police are also investigating the antisemitic abuse, which included a Union supporter trying to set fire to a paper Israel flag.

Police are also investigating for incitement, with one suspect, who repeatedly shouted “Sieg Heil,” being probed.

The Olympic Stadium was built for the 1936 Olympics hosted by Nazi Germany, where Adolf Hitler launched one of the most controversial sports events in history 85 years ago.

The match was switched from Union’s Alten Foersterei ground to the larger Olympic Stadium, home of rivals Hertha Berlin, to meet UEFA requirements.

In this August 2, 1936 photo, Adolf Hitler and Hermann Goering are seen watching events at the Olympics in Berlin. (AP)

Ahead of Thursday’s Game, Maccabi paid a visit to the Holocaust memorial in central Berlin where they laid a wreath.

“This isn’t just another game for us. Atrocities happened here,” Maccabi Haifa coach Barak Bakhar had said in a press conference on Wednesday.

The team’s president Ya’akov Shahar said before the game that it was Maccabi’s second time playing against a club from Germany’s top league, and that the previous time was combined with a visit to the Dachau concentration camp.

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