Children's football club launches investigation after boy 'refuses to play against Jewish team'

  • North London-based Panthera FC has said it will not tolerate racism after match row

  • Probe launched after boy's parents reportedly refused to let him play against Jewish team

  • The incident comes amid growing concerns of antisemitism in the UK and Europe

Soccer Players Kicking Classic White Soccer Balls on Training Session. Youth Football Background. Young Boy Wearing Soccer Cleats and Soccer Socks.
Soccer Players Kicking Classic White Soccer Balls on Training Session. Youth Football Background. Young Boy Wearing Soccer Cleats and Soccer Socks.

A children’s football club has vowed to root out racism after it was alleged that one of its members didn't take part in a match because it was against a Jewish team.

North London-based Panthera FC said it was investigating the alleged incident and that any form of racism, intimidation, discrimination or abuse could lead to removal from the club.

In a statement posted on its website, the club said: "As a club, we do not tolerate any form of racism, discrimination, or abuse of any kind.

"We stand firmly against all manifestations of racism and are dedicated to promoting a culture of inclusivity and unity.

"We believe that football is for everyone. It should be enjoyed by anyone who wants to participate in it, whether as a player, official, staff member, volunteer or spectator."

The statement follows allegations a parent of a player of one of the club's youth teams had objected to their child playing football against Hertfordshire-based Maccabi Lions – leading them to play with one less player in the match.

The Jewish News reported that Panthera FC had sent a message to its club members saying it would "not hesitate to take appropriate action, including removal from our club".

Its message reportedly added: "If you, as parents, harbour prejudice of any kind that could affect your child’s experience or our culture of inclusivity, then we must be honest – this may not be the right club for you."

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Panthera Football Club posted a full statement on its website, saying it wanted to make it "unequivocally clear" that it does not "tolerate any form of racism, discrimination, or abuse of any kind".

It said: "We aim to bring people together in a way that supports positive change, makes people feel valued and improves the lives of people both on and off the pitch."

The statement said that the club's commitment to inclusivity was 'woven into its fabric' and reflected in the diversity of its coaches, members and their families.

It added: "We join hands with those who are working tirelessly to eliminate racism from the beautiful game and from society as a whole and are committed to creating an environment where the richness of diversity is celebrated, and where prejudice has no place."

Panthera FC issued a statement via its website. (Panthera FC)
Panthera FC issued a statement via its website. (Panthera FC)

The statement went on to say that "any form of racism, intimidation, discrimination or abuse has no place at Panthera Football Club and will be investigated fully and may result in removal from our club".

It said: "We will not tolerate, as with any racism or discrimination, any incidents of intimidation by or against any member of the club and especially against children and any reports of this will also be investigated and reported to the Middlesex FA and may result in removal from the club.

Incident investigated

The club said any incidents would be taken seriously in line with its policies, and it would report and work closely with Middlesex FA to investigate any reports.

It also urged anyone who had witnesses any such incidents to email the club with information.

Yahoo News UK contacted Maccabi London FC for comment and was told: "We are currently investigating the matter so have not got any comment."

Earlier in October, Maccabi FC launched its: 'I Say a Little Prayer' campaign, asking parents to encourage their children to send a prayer to the IDF and/or Children of Israel along with a donation.

In a post on its website, it said: "We will be posting these prayers on Instagram daily and every prayer will be sent weekly to Israel.

"Every penny of every donation will go to Israel, in accordance with the directives given by the relevant Jewish agencies. In addition, we have secured some very generous support for our campaign, which means all donations will be 100% matched by the Club and therefore doubling the amount raised."

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2023/10/28: Protesters march with Palestinian flags and pro-Palestine placards during the demonstration on Victoria Embankment. Tens of thousands of people marched in central London in solidarity with Palestine as the Israel-Hamas war intensifies. (Photo by Vuk Valcic/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Concerns have been voiced over chanting at a pro-Palestinian rally in London at the weekend. (Getty)

Fears of rising antisemitism in UK

There have been growing concerns over antisemitic incidents in the UK and Europe in the wake of the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Alleged incidents include people daubing the Star of David on Jewish homes in Germany, as well as Palestinian flags being draped over the cars of Jewish people.

Some pro-Palestinian protestors involved in a demonstration in London at the weekend were also said to have been chanting "from the river to the sea".

Critics say it is a 'known antisemitic slogan" that suggests the destruction of Israel, but pro-Palestinian protesters disagree.

Robert Halfon, higher education minister, branded the phrase "horrific" on Monday, saying: "It’s scary. It’s frightening for Jewish people in England at the moment."