NIF observers reported a dramatic reduction in racist and violent incidents at soccer matches during the 2007-08 season. There was an overall 59 percent decrease in racist and violent incidents compared to the previous year. This decrease included a 40 percent decline in racist incidents such as chanting “Death to Arabs,” while “monkey” chants directed at black players were down by 68 percent. This was the fifth consecutive season that NIF has monitored the behavior of Israeli soccer fans.
When the campaign to reduce racism in Israeli society through soccer began, there was a fatalistic approach to the blatant racism heard each week in the country’s stadiums. NIF’s campaign has put the topic of racism in general high up on Israel’s public agenda. The reduction is in part due to new legislation outlawing racism at soccer matches – legislation on which NIF acted as a consultant.
The past season has also seen more and more organizations partnering with NIF in efforts to combat racism in soccer. These include the Ministry of Education, Police, Israel Football Association, Israel Players Association, the clubs, and NGOs such as the State of Football, which promotes multi-ethnic soccer tournaments.
With prohibitive legislation in place, NIF plans for more educational programs promoting mutual respect and co-existence and has launched a series of meeting and matches between Jewish and Arab fans.
Read more in the Jerusalem Post.