Dutch soccer player targeted in anti-Semitic mural after signing with 'Jewish' team

Jewish community org demands apology after Steven Berghuis depicted as Holocaust victim for signing with rival team known for Jewish fans.

Dan Verbin ,

Flash 90

A popular Dutch soccer player who signed with a rival team unofficially associated with the Jewish community was targeted over the weekend in an anti-Semitic mural depicting him as a Holocaust victim with stereotypical Jewish features.

Steven Berghuis, a 29-year old winger, was drawn wearing a concentration camp uniform with a yellow star. He also had on a kippah and his nose was drawn in an overly exaggerated manner typifying anti-Semitic caricatures of Jews.

Next to his image was the slogan “Jews always run away.”

The mural was painted after it was announced that Berguis had left Feyenoord Rotterdam for their longtime rival Ajax, which is based in Amsterdam, reported Dutch publication De Telegraaf.

Ajax is known informally as a Jewish soccer club, though it has no official ties to the Jewish community. Some of the team’s fans call themselves “Joden” (“Jews”) and fly Israeli flags at matches.

It has been a frequent recent occurrence that Ajax matches have been disrupted by anti-Semitic taunts from rival fans. The chant “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas” has been heard.

On Sunday, the municipality of Rotterman had the mural removed, reported NL Times.

The Israeli Information and Documentation Center (CIDI), the main Dutch organization combating anti-Semitism, send a letter to Feyenoord demanding action to combat anti-Semitism among the team’s fans.

They called the mural “a new low in football country.”

The team distanced itself from the mural, telling De Telegraaf that if it turns out the mural was painted by one of its fans with seasons tickets, they will receive a lifetime ban from the stadium.

CIDI’s letter urged the lifetime ban. “That serves as an unequivocal signal that this disgusting anti-Semitism will not be tolerated,” the statement said. “A visit to the Anne Frank House or a trip to Auschwitz, and a matching awareness campaign from the club would be appropriate to realize and understand the seriousness of the problems.”

They also called the team’s repudiation of the mural a good first step but called for an apology.

“Given the accumulation of incidents, and the seriousness of this painting, we would like the management of Feyenoord to apologize to anyone who has been hurt by this image.”

However, Feyenoord said they would not consider whether or not to apologize until the creator of the mural was revealed.

“This is because we also have no idea who is doing this and therefore not to what extent they really have a relationship with the club,” the team’s spokesperson told De Telegraaf.