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Czech leaders denounce anti-Semitic chanting

Czech Jewish leaders sent a letter of complaint to the country’s leading soccer team concerning anti-Semitic chants during games.

AC Sparta fans chanted the German word for Jew, Jude, during a Wednesday match in Prague between Sparta and the British team Arsenal. This is a chant frequently aimed at Sparta’s Czech rival, Slavia.

The letter to AC Sparta’s chairman Daniel Kretinsky states, “The use of the German word ‘Jude’ for Jew dispels any doubts about the fact that the word was used as an insult, in the same way as it was used during the mass persecution of Jews during World War II.”

The letter, signed by Prague Jewish Community Chairman Frantisek Banyai and Prague Jewish Museum director Leo Pavlat, continues, “Before the match with Arsenal your club was warned about manifestations” of racism “during matches and you said the authors of such manifestations can be identified and held responsible.”

Pavlat and Banyai then requested that the club management make good on its promise.

Responding to the open letter in a statement to the Czech News Agency, AC Sparta spokesman Jakub Otava said the chants would be investigated and that the team’s management cooperates closely with the police on such matters.

“The club’s position on the problem has been absolutely clear for a long time. We do not want racists and anti-Semites at stadiums,” he said.

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