The BBC, football racism and Israel

“Football racism fears in Egypt”.

That headline did not appear on the BBC website after the events pictured below in April 2011. In fact, a Google search for football racism in Egypt produces nothing as far as BBC reports on the subject are concerned. 


“Football racism fears in Holland”.

That headline did not appear on the BBC website after a player for AZ Alkmaar was subjected to racist abuse during a Dutch Cup match last month. The incident was the subject of one report by the BBC – placed in its Sport section.

“Football racism fears in England”.

That headline did not appear on the BBC website after two Aston Villa fans were found guilty of using antisemitic abuse and making a Nazi salute last week. In fact the BBC News website does not carry either of those stories at all. 

“Football racism fears in Israel”.

That headline appeared on the BBC News website’s home page (not in the Sport section) on February 11th. 

bbc news hp 11 2

The report is the second one to be produced by the BBC on the subject of the actions and alleged actions of some racist fans of the Beitar Jerusalem football club, with the other report having been promoted on the BBC News website’s Middle East page since Friday, February 8th and still there four days later. 

ME hp 11 2

Kayal Beram, Israel national team

 As previously pointed out here:

“The police have set up a dedicated investigatory team for the incident, which has been condemned by the city’s mayor and the country’s Prime Minister.”

Yes – there is a serious problem with a group of racist fans of one football club out of dozens – most of which (as even acknowledged in the BBC article on the subject) have players from many different religious and ethnic backgrounds – in a country which includes players from minority ethnic and religious groups on its national teams

Deplorable as the racism among some fans at Beitar Jerusalem is, its existence makes Israel no different and no worse than most countries on the planet which have also failed to eliminate racism from football. It certainly does not justify the over-generalised headline “Football racism fears in Israel” or the placing of two separate reports on two home pages of the BBC News website for a relatively prolonged period of time. 

Unless, that is, this incident is being exploited to try to advance a specific narrative about an entire country. 

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