Wiesenthal Center rips Argentina soccer squad with Jewish ties over slurs

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (JTA) — The Simon Wiesenthal Center urged an Argentinian soccer association to sanction a team associated with the Jewish community for making racist chants.

The center made its request in a letter late last week to the Argentine Football Association’s Disciplinary Court over chants by fans of the Atlanta Football Club in its Aug. 25 match against the Chacarita Juniors.

Atlanta fans called Chacarita “Bolivians who belong in shantytowns, go back home.”

“In the past we asked for sanctions for anti-Semitic chants that Atlanta fans received,” Sergio Widder, the Wiesenthal Center’s director, told JTA. “So now we cannot keep silent when they proffer racist chants against others.”

The Argentine National Institute Against Discrimination already has intervened.

Atlanta is a professional club founded in 1904 in the Jewish neighborhood of Villa Crespo that historically has received the support of Jewish fans. The team features several Jewish players and administrators.

In 1963, Atlanta became the first Argentinian team to visit Israel, defeated its national squad.

In February 2000, fans of a rival team greeted Atlanta with Nazi flags and threw soap on the field while singing “with the Jews we make soap.” Their actions spurred the national soccer association to establish rules requiring the referee to end or suspend a match due to racist expressions.

In March 2012, the Wiesenthal Center called on the Argentine Football Association to penalize the Chacarita Juniors over anti-Semitic chants from its fans.

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