Do utmost to expunge abhorrent behaviour and deal with offenders appropriately

Wednesday 07th June 2023 07:31 EDT

Arsenal are assisting the police with a probe into anti-Semitic comments sent in the Ashburton Army's WhatsApp group. Ashburton Army is now facing accusations that anti-Semitic messages were sent on their WhatsApp group. 

According to The Guardian, the messages largely focus on the Holocaust but also comprise Israel-Palestine conspiracy theories, Jewish practice related to circumcision and Tottenham’s reputation as a Jewish club.

The anti-Semitic sentiments are communicated in words, songs, memes and cartoons, with dozens of messages having been sent. Some target all Jews, though several are aimed at one Jewish fan who had been part of the group. The screenshots seen by The Guardian show that at no point did an administrator delete the offending posts, remonstrate with the perpetrators or remove those responsible from the group.

“We are aware of the historic messages on a private WhatsApp group and we strongly condemn the abusive and discriminatory language being used. We are liaising with the police on the matter," they said in a statement to the Guardian.

“Our ongoing action shows that abusive and discriminatory behaviour will not be tolerated at Arsenal. Our inclusion programmes designed for our local community aim to support education on the topics of abuse and discrimination, while our global platforms will continue to give a voice and bring focus to matters of equality, diversity and inclusion.

"We will also continue to campaign alongside our supporters’ groups, including our new Jewish Gooners group and the Jewish community, to celebrate and champion our diverse family with the aim of ensuring everyone feels welcome at Arsenal.”

In a statement, Jonathan Metliss, Chairman of Action Against Discrimination (AAD)  said, “AAD notes with disgust and condemns the harrowing anti-Semitic posts sent in the WhatsApp group of the Ashburton Army, a prominent fan organisation to which Arsenal FC have given assistance. These include Israel - Palestine conspiracy theories, Jewish practice related to circumcision and Tottenham’s reputation as a Jewish club.

“And so it goes on. There is a trend here following the anti-Semitic attack on Jewish supporter Katie Price at the Cally pub at the time of the North London derby against Tottenham in January. At the heart of this atmosphere of anti- Semitism, AAD believes, is the continuing chanting by Tottenham supporters of the “Y“ word referring to Yid”, which encourages and acts as a catalyst in the football world for anti- Semitic behaviour.
“On the positive side, Arsenal have unreservedly condemned the Katie Price incident and recently banned five fans for three years over Jew hate incidents online or in the Arsenal stadium. The club is liaising with the police over these latest Ashburton army anti- Semitic posts. The launch of the Jewish Gooners Supporters Club is also seen as a positive step. It is acknowledged that Arsenal FC generally have a good track record in combatting and addressing anti- Semitic behaviour from their supporters and at the Emirates.
“AAD again calls on the relevant football authorities, clubs, the police and politicians to do their utmost to expunge this abhorrent behaviour and deal with the offenders appropriately.”

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