Feyenoord condemns anti-Semitic mural after captain's move to rival Ajax

26 July 2021

Feyenoord Rotterdam has distanced itself from the extremely hurtful and threatening statements created by a banner and mural related to their captain Steven Berghuis’ move to rival Ajax Amsterdam. 

The mural in the Rotterdam-Crooswijk area, removed within 24 hours by the cleaners of the City of Rotterdam, was antisemitic and showed Berghuis with a large nose and Jewish star and was accompanied by the text: ‘Jews always run away’. A Feyenoord spokesman states that if it will become clear who is responsible for the graffiti -and the police is investigating this- they might get a stadium ban.   

However, in an open letter, the Centrum Documentation and Information Israel (CIDI) has asked the Feyenoord Rotterdam management to take action against anti-Semitism among some of its supporters. Feyenoord has distanced itself from the image but this is not enough for the CIDI. ‘Given the accumulation of incidents and the seriousness of this depiction, we would like to see the Feyenoord board apologise to everyone who has been hurt by this image.’ The Rotterdam club does not offer an excuse for the mural. ‘This is because we too have no idea who is doing this and therefore to what extent they really have a relationship with the club’, says the spokesman.   

CIDI also urges Feyenoord to take action against the perpetrators. ‘A stadium ban serves as an unambiguous signal that this disgusting anti-Semitism will not be tolerated. A visit to the Anne Frank House or a trip to Auschwitz, and a corresponding awareness campaign by the club, would be appropriate to make people realise and understand the seriousness of the problems. Your club, with its rich history, must not be abused for the sake of the purest anti-Semitism. There are many examples of clubs that have successfully tackled the problem of anti-Semitism. (..) CIDI itself will report to the police on Monday against the perpetrators of the mural. We look forward to a strong signal from Feyenoord to finally put an end to anti-Semitism among the supporters of the football club.’ 

Show Racism the Red Card condemns every form of racism, however we also know that Feyenoord Rotterdam already fights anti-Semitism for several years and works together with the Anne Frank House since 2015. The Rotterdam club also is a partner in the ‘Changing the Chants’ project and released recently a documentary combating anti-Semitism in football.  Feyenoord stresses: ‘Of course we are always willing to talk to parties to see how this broad social problem can finally be tackled with our efforts. We can then also explain in detail what we as a club, together with social organisations, have been doing for many years to combat anti-Semitism. This ranges from webinars and workshops to educational trips to Auschwitz and Birkenau.’ 


‘Feyenoord is for everyone’ is a slogan that means a lot to Feyenoord. Everyone should feel welcome in the stadium. Feyenoord is the first club in the Netherlands to have an educational programme on anti-Semitism. Since 2015 Feyenoord works together with the Anne Frank House and anti-racism organisation Radar. The educational programme focuses mainly on supporters who have received a stadium ban. The club also organises guided tours through the city along places that have a link with the club and with the Second World War, or fans meet Jewish Feyenoord supporters who tell their story. In this way, the club tries to make its supporters aware of damaging anti-Semitic behaviour. 

Since 2020, Feyenoord Rotterdam has been a partner in the ‘Changing the Chants’ a two-year-project, an international collaboration between Feyenoord, Borussia Dortmund, the FARE network and the Anne Frank House and supported by the European Union’s Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme. The goal is to deepen the understanding of approaches that football clubs can take to educate fans on antisemitic behavior in the football stands. 

They recently released a documentary and a good practice guide on combating anti-Semitism in football. The aim of the project is to gain more insight into measures that football clubs can take, or activities that can be organised to make fans aware of anti-Semitic behaviour in the football stands. Changing the Chants is based on two separate educational programmes for football fans, carried out by Borussia Dortmund and Feyenoord. These educational initiatives, although not similar, were exchanged and analysed, and new approaches have been tried out, paving the way for practices in which restorative justice is applied.  

This project promotes the opening of a space for shared learning, transnational and cross-contextual piloting of these approaches and the exchange will help to create practical and transferable guidelines and recommendations for football communities, and football clubs in particular, across Europe and beyond. Football communities wishing to combat anti-Semitism through non-formal education will thus be able to develop their own meaningful programmes and prevent and respond to anti-Semitic hate speech. A dedicated website will encourage cross-border exchange and cooperation.  

Apart of that, a conference of the “Changing the Chants” project on methods and measures to combat antisemitism in football will take place 31 August and 1 September 2021 in Oświęcim, Poland. Football organisations can find more information and register here.  

Watch the documentary here: https://youtu.be/ypokA8JbvAk

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