Jewish organization calls for lifetime bans if fans found to have given Nazi salutes



CNN

The New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies has called on Football Australia to issue lifetime bans to fans found to have displayed Nazi symbols and salutes during Saturday night’s Australia Cup final.

On Sunday, Football Australia said it will review all the video footage and images it has available from Saturday night’s Australia Cup final in Sydney after it was widely reported that some fans did the “Hitler salute”.

At Commbank Stadium, a near-record crowd of 16,461 saw Macarthur FC beat Sydney United 58 2-0.

But the match was marred by “anti-social behaviour” and eight people were ejected from the stadium during the final, Football Australia said in a statement.

According to Australian media reports, some fans chanted and booed during the Welcome To Country ceremony, a sacred indigenous tradition.

Images on social media also appeared to show Nazi salutes performed by some supporters of Sydney United 58, a club founded by Croatian immigrants in 1958.

Football Australia, the sport’s governing body, said it would hold discussions with Sydney United 58 and warned the club and individual fans could face sanctions.

Sydney United 58 did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.

In its statement, Football Australia said it “strongly condemns the actions of a small minority of individuals who engage in behavior inconsistent with Football Australia’s values ​​and wider societal expectations.”

It added: “Football Australia is today assessing all available footage and images of certain individuals which are of concern to our organization and the wider Australian football community, including the display of the ‘Hitler salute’.”

The governing body said it was “working closely” with stadium management and New South Wales Police and would take “strong and swift action.”

Darren Bark, chief executive of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, said in a statement to CNN: “These disgusting symbols and greetings have no place in modern Australian society. They represent the ultimate manifestation of evil – an evil that led to the murder of millions of innocent civilians during the Second World War, including six million Jews and thousands of Australian diggers who lost their lives fighting the Nazis during the Second World War.”

He added that the board “calls on the governing body to take strong action against any fan who participated in these acts, including the implementation of lifetime bans.”

“Football Australia should also work with Sydney United to address the worrying views held by some of its fans,” he continued.

Crowd noise during the Welcome to Country, performed by Erin Wilkins before the match, “reached unacceptable levels,” Football Australia acknowledged.

“We regret that this happened and are reviewing all available footage and audio to further analyze the incident,” it said in its statement.

“Football Australia has been in direct communication with Erin Wilkins during and since the game and will continue to receive her and the Football Australia National Indigenous Advisory Group’s guidance on this matter.”

Craig Foster, former Sydney United and Australia player, tweeted: “All involved must be held accountable, including the club.”

Football Australia co-CEOs Beau Busch and Kathryn Gill said in a statement: “On the field, the game reflected the universal values ​​of fairness, respect and courage that should define our sport. Unfortunately, those values ​​were shattered in the stands.”

The statement added: “Our sport must now respond and the players are required to play an important role. An effective response will not be developed by focusing on whether these actions were inflicted by a minority.”

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