(JTA) — Anti-Semitic slurs directed against a Jewish soccer team sparked a brawl between two Berlin amateur squads, according to the Jewish team, but police said witnesses related that there were also anti-Muslim insults.
Two players were injured in the fight Sunday in the German city during the match between BFC Meteor and the newly formed TuS Makkabi III. Referees halted the game 10 minutes into the second half after failing to restore order.
Four people have been charged with insulting and causing bodily harm. Police are investigating possible charges of anti-Semitic incitement.
The incident has drawn calls for tougher action against anti-Semitism among fans and athletes.
A police spokesman told Reuters, however, that the incident was sparked by a Makkabi fan insulting a Meteor player.
“According to witnesses, there were insults from both sides, so there were anti-Semitic as well as anti-Muslim insults,” the spokesman said.
The Makkabi team said in a statement issued after the incident that the brawl was triggered when a Meteor fan shouted “s*** Jews” at team members during its opening game. Members of the Jewish team reportedly responded with “s*** Arab”; the brawl ensued.
Meteor players had used anti-Semitic insults such as “Jewish pigs” and “dirty Jews,” Makkabi said, and had physically attacked its members.
The Berlin office of the American Jewish Committee, which had two staff members on the Makkabi team, called on the Berlin Soccer Association to take action.
This was not the first time that players from Makkabi soccer teams in Germany have been subjected to anti-Jewish slurs, Deidre Berger, head of the AJC office in Berlin, said in a statement.