Union Berlin apologize after Haifa fans suffer anti-Semitic insults

Martin Rose / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Berlin, Oct 1, 2021 (AFP) - Union Berlin apologised Friday after some of its fans hurled anti-Semitic insults at visiting Israeli champions Maccabi Haifa, who were the first club from Israel to play at the Nazi-era Olympic stadium since 1936.

"This behaviour is shameful and intolerable," said Union president Dirk Zingler.

"We apologise to those affected... we will never tolerate discrimination in our ranks. It is important to remain vigilant and to work tirelessly against it."

Haifa fans said they were subjected to anti-Semitic insults from some Union Berlin supporters during a Europa Conference League match at the city's Olympic Stadium, where the hosts won 3-0 on Thursday.

A Union Berlin supporter also tried to set an Israeli flag on fire "which was fortunately quickly prevented by civilian police officers", said the Youth Forum of the German-Israeli Society Berlin-Potsdam on Twitter.

"On the terraces, we were threatened by Union fans, pelted with beer", the forum added, saying that members of their were subjected to anti-Semitic insults "among other things".

Police said they were investigating the incidents for incitement, with one suspect, who repeatedly shouted "Sieg Heil", being probed as well.

Thursday's ugliness sparked a round of condemnation.

"The anti-Semitic incidents at yesterday's match... show that hostility towards Jews is still widespread in football," Felix Klein, Germany's commissioner for Jewish Life and the Fight against anti-Semitism, told the Funke media group.

"I am dismayed that instead of fairness and respect, hatred and violence emanated from German fans, especially at this historically-charged venue," added Klein.

On Friday morning, the youth forum tweeted: "Thank you for the wave of solidarity online and to the Union fans who showed solidarity with us in the stadium."

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

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

The Israeli club itself did not react to the anti-Semitic cases.

"Many thanks for the great hospitality. It was an exciting game in front of your crowd and also ours, and also in this stadium, which has its own significance. Thank you very much and see you in Israel," it wrote on Twitter.

Union Berlin apologize after Haifa fans suffer anti-Semitic insults
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