Jewish UK soccer fans set up support group to tackle anti-Semitism

Fans of Watford Football Club launch support group, encouraged by former Israeli soccer star Ronny Rosenthal, to connect Jewish supporters.

Dan Verbin, Canada ,

Soccer (illustration)
Soccer (illustration)

UK Jewish fans of the Watford Football Club have launched a group to fight anti-Semitism and connect Jewish supporters of the soccer team, the Jewish Chronicle reported.

The group is thought to be the Premier League’s first Jewish supporter’s group. The new organization bills itself as a forum for Jewish Watford fans to comment on “issues of importance to Jewish supporters, such as anti-Semitism and Holocaust Memorial Day.”

Watford Football club was promoted in 2021 to the Premier League, the top tier league for English soccer.

The founder of the group, Tom Wyse, said that with the team’s newfound status, it was an exciting time to be a fan.

He added that Watford has a large Jewish fan base and has a commitment to community projects.

“Watford has undertaken impressive work when it comes to tackling anti-Semitism and supporting Holocaust Memorial Day, but we felt it was time to establish a Jewish supporters’ group, not only to back up the excellent work the club is doing, but to provide a Jewish voice within the club on issues of importance to Jewish supporters,” Wyse told the Chronicle.

The newly established group has among its supporters former Israeli international soccer player Ronny Rosenthal. Nicknamed “Rocket Ronny,” the Haifa-born player played for Watford at the end of his career. He previously played for Maccabi Haifa, teams in Belgium, and then in 1990 became the first non-UK player to sign to an English club for over 1 million pounds when he began playing for Liverpool.

Rosenthal said that he “looked forward to seeing the group working with the club this season and other supporters’ groups to help create a more tolerant, diverse and caring society.”

Soccer has not been immune from the rise in anti-Semitism in the UK and the rest of Europe.

In May, a professional soccer player from Belgium who sang with fans that he’d “rather die than be a Jew” defended his actions, which became the subject of a disciplinary review.

Later that month, a video showing a fan of the UK Spurs soccer team being forced to put away an Israeli flag sparked outrage.

In the video a masked security guard approaches the man in the stands and demands he put his Israeli flag away or leave the stadium.

In mid-July, a British Jewish actor and filmmaker was the subject of anti-Semitic harassment during the Euro finals between England and Italy at Wembley Stadium in London.

At the end of July, a popular Dutch soccer player who signed with a rival team unofficially associated with the Jewish community was targeted in an anti-Semitic mural depicting him as a Holocaust victim with stereotypical Jewish features.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)