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Top English Soccer Club Under Fire for Not Endorsing Antisemitism Definition

Sheffield United.jpg

Top-flight English soccer club Sheffield United took a hammering from British Jewish leaders on Friday, after it was reported that its management had not signed up to the definition of antisemitism adopted by the Premier League earlier this week.

According to The Sun, Sheffield United was the only club in the 20-strong Premier League — the elite upper tier of English soccer — not to individually sign up to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism.

The IHRA definition explains that antisemitism “is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews.” These manifestations can include attacks on Israel’s right to exist alongside more traditional antisemitic tropes. Hundreds of governments, associations and civic organizations across the globe have adopted the definition as the basis of their efforts to counter antisemitism.

In a statement to The Sun, Sheffield United said it “acknowledged” the Premier League’s decision and “supported it as a shareholder.” It did not address speculation that the club’s reluctance to sign up individually to the IHRA definition was linked to the fact that its owner was Prince Abdullah Al Saud, a member of the Saudi royal family.

Jonathan Metliss — founder of Action Against Discrimination, which combats racism, antisemitism and discrimination in English soccer — said that he hoped the club would change its stance.

“Sheffield United and its supporters do not have a history nor record of antisemitism or antisemitic behavior, but it would be better to have them on board,” Metliss noted.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews (BoD) similarly urged Sheffield United to adopt the IHRA definition.

“That would be a sign of their commitment to identifying and combating the anti-Jewish racism which has for too long stained the reputation of English football,” BoD Vice President Amanda Bowman stated.