Anti-Semitic Display at Polish Soccer Match Must Not Go Unpunished

New York, NY, May 12, 2010 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today called on the head of the Polish professional soccer league to sanction a team for a blatant display of anti-Semitism by its fans.

During a May 8 match, fans of Resovia Rzeszow displayed a large banner showing a caricatured hook-nosed Jew with a blue and white yarmulke – the colors of the opposing team – and the phrase, "Death to the Crooked Noses."

"This sickening display of crude anti-Semitism is an alarming manifestation of a continuing problem in Polish society, where our opinion surveys and other polls have found disturbing levels of anti-Semitic sentiment," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "We call on the league's president to sanction Resovia Rzeszow and to apply the anti-racism practices of the European football authority, UEFA."

In a letter to Mr. Andrzej Rusko, president of the Ekstraklasa league, ADL said, "An equally important measure of society is how authorities react to such incidents."

"Only 700 of Rzeszow's 15,000 Jews survived the Holocaust," the letter stated. "Jews were starved and executed in Rzeszow's ghetto, which was later transformed into a concentration camp for the region. Some were sent to nearby death camps, while others were shot in the forest. Calling for death to Jews on the same spot cannot go unpunished."

Polish police detained five fans suspected of displaying the anti-Semitic banners, charging two of them under a law banning public incitement against ethnic or religious groups. The country’s soccer federation also penalized the soccer club.

ADL is the world’s leading anti-hate organization. Founded in 1913 in response to an escalating climate of anti-Semitism and bigotry, its timeless mission is to protect the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all. Today, ADL continues to fight all forms of hate with the same vigor and passion. A global leader in exposing extremism, delivering anti-bias education, and fighting hate online, ADL is the first call when acts of anti-Semitism occur. ADL’s ultimate goal is a world in which no group or individual suffers from bias, discrimination or hate.