Soccer (illustration)
Soccer (illustration) iStock

Labour MP Christian Wakeford is calling on the British government to act, warning of widespread antisemitism in children’s soccer.

Wakeford said that discrimination against Jewish players is commonplace even at the junior level, with stories of seven-year old Jewish kids facing opponents who hiss at them imitating the noise of gas chambers, the UK Jewish News reported.

Wakeford demanded that the government take action to ensure that British soccer players can freely play the sport without facing antisemitic abuse.

During a Westminster Hall debate on antisemitism and racism in soccer, Wakeford warned that antisemitism is endemic at all levels of the sport.

He called the stories of Jewish children being hissed at by their opponents “truly shameful, shocking and abhorrent.”

The report was also described by debate chair, Conservative former cabinet minister Theresa Villiers, as “just revolting” and “profoundly disturbing.”

Villiers called it a “real illustration that antisemitism remains a serious problem in football.”

Culture minister Nigel Huddleston told the assembled MPs that the government plans to work with governing bodies in soccer to “combat racism, discrimination and antisemitism both in person and online, from grassroots to the boardroom.”

Wakeford, noted that antisemitism was not only an issue at the amateur and youth level in soccer. “We see examples of antisemitism in football everywhere,” he said, pointing to antisemitic incidents against Tottenham Hotspurs fans, a team with a large Jewish fanbase.

“Tottenham Hotspur Football Club is of course home to a large Jewish population and rival supporters have used a pejorative term, as it has been mentioned in this debate already, with little consequences for doing so,” he said.

In May, two arrests were made after a fan of rival team Burnley FC was filmed making Nazi salutes during a home game against the Hotspurs.