English Premier League soccer club West Ham said it will ban any fans who were filmed chanting anti-Semitic abuse ahead of a game at Manchester United, as the head of world soccer called for a major crackdown on racist abuse among fans.
The West Ham fans were filmed on a tram singing an anti-Semitic song about rival club Tottenham Hotspur, which has a large Jewish fan base. West Ham fans have gotten in trouble several times in the past for chanting anti-Semitic songs, including the one heard on the video posted Saturday.
West Ham said it was “disgusted” by the video, which was posted on Twitter by journalist Darren Richman.
Richman said it was filmed by his mother, the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, in Manchester.
In a statement, West Ham said it is “taking immediate action to try to identify the offenders, whose details we will be handing over to the police and will be banned for life from London Stadium and from travelling with the club.”
West Ham United are disgusted by video footage circulating on social media tonight. The Club has issued a statement.https://t.co/eVCXTGzmis
— West Ham United (@WestHamUtd) April 13, 2019
The club added that it does not “want people like this associated with West Ham. They are not welcome at our club, they are not welcome in civilized society.”
The video was the latest of a rash of anti-Semitic and racist incidents to plague soccer in England and elsewhere.
Last week London club Chelsea, owned by Israeli Roman Abramovich, banned fans heard using an Islamaphobic epithet against striker Mohammed Salah. The team also narrowly avoided disciplinary action over fans’ anti-Semitic abuse of Tottenham supporters.
Fans of Tottenham, a north London soccer club which has traditionally drawn a large fan base from the Jewish communities, call themselves the “Yid Army.” But Chelsea fans have used the word, considered an anti-Semitic epithet in England, against Tottenham in chants.
On Saturday, FIFA president Gianni Infantino encouraged referees to go as far as calling off matches in response to racist abuse against players.
“We will not hesitate to do everything in our power to eradicate racism, and any other form of discrimination, from football, at any level and anywhere in the world,” the head of world soccer’s governing body said in a statement on Saturday.
Infantino referred to the “three-step procedure” at tournaments, a measure that was brought in at the 2017 Confederations Cup and which allows a referee to stop a game, suspend a game and ultimately abandon a game if discriminatory behavior persists.
“FIFA urges all member associations, leagues, clubs and disciplinary bodies to adopt the same procedure, as well as a zero-tolerance approach to incidents of racism in football, and to apply harsh sanctions for any such kind of behavior,” Infantino said. “Racism has no place in football, just as it has no place in society either.”
Infantino’s intervention comes one day after Amiens’ French league game at Dijon was temporarily halted after the visiting side’s captain Prince Gouano was subjected to racist insults.
“I heard monkey noises,” said Gouano, who asked the referee to stop the game. The French league said the alleged perpetrator was subsequently identified and arrested.
FIFA says it fully supports Gouano, as well as players such as Kalidou Koulibaly, Raheem Sterling and Danny Rose, who were also subjected to racist abuse.
Tottenham defender Rose went so far as to say he was looking forward to retiring from the game in the future because of ongoing racism and a lack of action from authorities.
Rose was among England players targeted with monkey chants in Montenegro last month while playing in a European Championship qualifier.
“In recent days, it has been very sad to see a number of racist incidents in football,” Infantino said. “This is really not acceptable.”
FIFA disbanded its anti-racism task force early in Infantino’s presidency in 2016, saying it had “completely fulfilled its temporary mission.”