Both players and supporters of the team were subjected to anti-Semitic abuse throughout Sunday afternoon’s game as fans of Kaunas FC, a club formed by London-based Lithuanians, were heard calling the players “dirty Jews”, sounded air horns in their faces as they approached and abused Maccabi supporters.
Mike Brown, Chief Executive Officer of the Amateur Football Alliance, the body which deals with discipline in the Futsal League, told the Jewish News: “The matter involving the spectators of Kaunas is currently being investigated. We find all forms of discrimination in football and the wider community abhorrent and will do all we can to stamp it out.
“The Football Association and County & other Football Associations such as ourselves, have a robust system in place to consider and hear misconduct charges against clubs and individuals alleged to have committed offences where discrimination has said to have occurred. Any panel members who sit on such cases have received specialist training.
“When we have all the evidence, this will be assessed together with the Football Association and any necessary charge or charges issued. A panel will then be convened to hear the case which, if proven, will result in an appropriate punishment being issued.”
The FA took action after Maccabi GB reported the incidents to them. Releasing a statement, they said: “Maccabi GB can confirm that an anti-Semitic comment, coupled with intimidating behaviour, occurred during the game towards our players. There was also intimidating and aggressive behaviour towards our fans.
“A report has been issued by Maccabi GB to the FA and to the CST. We are confident that both parties are taking this seriously and will deal with the matter in a timely and proper manner.
“We would like to add that futsal – or any sport – should not be used as an arena to portray anti-Semitic, racist, discriminatory or political views and we trust the FA to uphold their ideals and continue their work in eradicating this behaviour from the game.”
Mark Gardner, Director of Communications at the CST added: “CST will study Maccabi’s report with keen interest and expects the FA to take appropriate action. Jewish footballers and our wider community need to see that this kind of anti-Semitism is not tolerated.”
While not wishing to comment on the inquiry as it was ongoing, Kaunus owner Romas Poluskinas did vow to punish any of his club’s supporters found guilty of carrying out any abuse.
He said: “I didn’t hear anything [during the match] but will investigate it. I don’t like this situation and if we find evidence that our supporters behaved like this, we will ban them from attending our games again.
“This isn’t professional futsal, it’s a league of community sides and we have to support each other.
“I can’t say much now as the investigation is ongoing, but if found guilty, I will also apologise to the team, players and Jewish community.”