Racism in Soccer: Challenges Faced By Arab Players in Israeli National Team
Despite narrow victories over inferior opponents, Israel’s national football team tries to stay upbeat. The widespread problem of racism in the well-liked Israeli sport, however, casts a shadow over their efforts and has an impact on everyone involved. Even if the team experiences unprecedented success and makes it to the Euros, racist supporters will probably undermine their achievements.
Racist fans continue to treat Arab players as enemies
In the team’s history, the recent game against Andorra featured the most egregious case of racism when midfielder Mohammad Abu Fani was subjected to insults, including being called a “terrorist.” Sadly, this is not an isolated incident; there are those who will not keep quiet about Israeli-Arab players playing for the national team.
Some fans choose to ignore this and harbor intense animosity towards Arab players despite the fact that they choose to represent their nation by donning the blue and white jersey with the Star of David. The attempts by Arab players to heal the rift don’t seem to have any effect on their hostility. These supporters, who are propelled by nationalism that passes for patriotism, are prepared to go to great lengths, including attending late-night matches and buying tickets, in order to humiliate the Arab players.
These racist incidents happen everywhere, unlike Teddy in Jerusalem, which only happened in one stadium. These supporters’ poisonous ideology knows no boundaries and will contaminate all venues, including Bloomfield, Sami Ofer, and Toto-Turner stadiums. It is depressing to see how little the Premier League has done to stop these incidents from happening in the first place.
Teams have instead tried to minimize the severity by attributing them to a select few people and assuming that they will self-correct. We have seen the results of this careless approach, and the ineffective response amply demonstrates the hollow promises of dealing with this issue.
There were instances of jeers directed at Hoffenheim striker Mu’nas Dabbur prior to the incident involving Abu-Fani. The national team made an effort to blame his social media post from Operation Guardian of the Walls for the fans’ irate. The racial slurs that were used alongside the insults, however, were conveniently disregarded.
The incidents on Monday night show that an Arab player does not need to post a controversial statement in order to endure insults and humiliation while playing for their nation. No matter what, racism still exists.
Even though Partizan Belgrade midfielder Bibras Natcho consistently attended games, even friendly matches when he was injured, and gave a moving speech at a Holocaust memorial ceremony the team held in Poland, his dedication to the national team was overshadowed by the requirement that “the team captain must sing the national anthem.”
It seems like his teammates should have praised his leadership abilities. Given that Natcho is Circassian, some people disregard his contributions and dedication in favor of seeing him as merely appreciative of the chance to play.
Abu Fani’s ongoing mistreatment is a continuation of Natcho’s disrespect, and because no one has stepped in to stop it, the situation is getting worse. The government officials who openly express racism while knowing they will not face repercussions have fueled the fans’ resentment.
It follows that it is not surprising that they feel confident enough to act in this way. Their ultimate objective, which seems to be drawing closer, is to bar Arab players from the Israeli national team. Sadly, there may even be Knesset members who have such ideas. Racism is spreading, and it is at least somewhat improbable that it can be effectively stopped.