Israeli soccer
Israeli socceriStock

German soccer teams met in Dortmund this week to talk about how to combat rising antisemitism in the sport, Deutsche Welle reported.

Borussia Dortmund's Westfalenstadion soccer stadium hosted the conference, which discussed ways to fight antisemitism. One of the main topics discussed was the fact that antisemitism differs from other types of discrimination.

"Antisemitism and Professional Football: Challenges, Opportunities and Networking," was put together by Bundesliga team Borussia Dortmund along with the German Football League (DFL), the World Jewish Congress (WJC) and the Central Council of Jews in Germany (ZDJ).

Attending workshops on different facets of the fight against antisemitism, and discussions on German Jews and soccer were 150 attendees from about 30 German soccer clubs, along with politicians, such as Felix Klein, the German government’s commissioner for Jewish life in Germany and the fight against antisemitism.

The conference had added relevancy due to Germany’s soccer association on Monday condemning the behavior of a home supporter who was being investigated for giving the Nazi salute during Saturday's friendly win over Israel.

A 28-year-old man has been questioned by police after repeatedly giving the Nazi salute, which is banned in Germany, during the international in Sinsheim, reported the AFP news agency.

The main difference between antisemitism and racism was discussed at the event, with experts speaking about how the ideologies of racism differ from antisemitism in certain aspects.

Borussia Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke told DW that combating antisemitism is part of the league’s “DNA.”

"Everyone knows that, when they identify with Borussia Dortmund, antisemitism is a complete taboo, otherwise they don't belong here," he said.

Dr. Josef Schuster, the president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said that the Bundesliga professional soccer association and the German Football Association (DFB) have been doing a good job combating antisemitism, and also said many individuals teams have also been doing the same.

"They all have different characteristics, and the levels of success differ," Schuster said. "But there is indeed success."

The work includes educational initiatives and support groups to raise awareness of antisemitism in German soccer. The effort has been successful in many aspects, with antisemitic fan chants mostly a thing of the past at Bundesliga games today.

Schuster explained that German soccer’s belief in combating antisemitism is “highly important.” In the last few years, many fan groups have also made it clear they are against antisemitism.

"Borussia Dortmund has ten million fans in Germany alone, that's every eighth German. I believe it sends out an important signal when such a club says a fan is only welcome if they distance themselves from antisemitism and racism,” he said.