Last updated: 21 May, 2014

Israeli basketball team condemns racist Twitter abuse

Israeli basketball team Maccabi Tel Aviv, who beat Real Madrid to win the European league on Sunday, has condemned anti-Semitic abuse posted on Twitter following its victory.

Twitter users in Spain posted 17,500 racist messages that included references to the mass murder of Jews in the Holocaust, according to several Jewish associations, which lodged a legal complaint over the abuse.

“Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball wishes to express its shock and disappointment at the hurtful discriminatory comments made on social media networks,” the team said in a statement released Wednesday.

“It is very disappointing to see the rush of anti-Semitism following a well fought competition,” the statement quoted team manager Danny Federman as saying.

“The hateful remarks we have seen this week, and the subsequent global condemnation of them, serve both as a reminder of how far we have come in the fight against ignorance and racism, and how far we still must go,” Maccabi Tel Aviv’s president Shimon Mizrahi said.

Twelve Jewish groups in the northeastern Catalonia region in Spain lodged a legal complaint over the messages, which they said flooded onto the Twitter network after Maccabi’s narrow win in the Euroleague final.

Ruben Noboa of the Jewish group Israel in Catalonia said he launched the lawsuit after seeing references in some messages to death camps and the mass murder of Jews in the Holocaust.

“When we saw reactions to Maccabi’s victory such as ‘Jews to the oven’ or ‘Jews to the showers’, we decided to lodge this judicial complaint,” Noboa told AFP on Tuesday.

Angry Spanish supporters created an expletive anti-Semitic hashtag in their messages after the match, which briefly became one of the most popular keywords on Twitter in Spain.

A recent report by the Anti-Defamation League, an international campaign against anti-Semitism, said Spain ranked third in Europe for prejudice against Jews, after Greece and France.

The Jewish associations behind Tuesday’s lawsuit called on the Spanish interior ministry to take a similar line against the anti-Semitic abuse over the basketball match.