Charges dropped against anti-Semitic Belgian soccer fans

Prosecutors in Belgium decide not to prosecute soccer supporters who sang at a match about burning Jews.

Ben Ariel ,

Soccer (illustration)
Soccer (illustration)

Prosecutors in Belgium have decided not to prosecute soccer supporters who sang at a match about burning Jews, explaining the supporters’ three-year stadium ban was punishment enough, JTA reported Monday.

The news site HLN reported on Thursday about the decision to dismiss charges against four Bruges supporters, who last year were banned by the national soccer association from entering all major stadiums in Belgium for up to three years.

Michael Freilich, a Jewish lawmaker in federal parliament, criticized the decision, which follows a string of incidents in which Belgian authorities were seen to be lax on anti-Semitic hate speech.

“This is a bad signal,” he was quoted as having said. “Anti-Semitic hate speech is an offense according to the criminal code. So it must be punished. Otherwise, why do we have laws?” he said.

The four supporters were the ones identified from dozens who in August 2018 were filmed celebrating their local team’s victory over Brussels’ Anderlecht team by singing in Flemish: “My father was in the commandos, my mother was in the SS, together they burned Jews ‘cause Jews burn the best.”

In recent years, there have been several anti-Semitic incidents during soccer games in Europe.

In January, on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Dutch police arrested five soccer supporters for allegedly singing a chant about burning Jews during a match.

In April of 2018, fans of the Italian soccer team Lazio taunted a Rome rival with anti-Semitic chants about Anne Frank.

In 2016, Chelsea fans were filmed singing an anti-Semitic chant on a London subway following the team's victory over Tottenham.