SOFIA/NEW YORK – The World Jewish Congress has strongly condemned the “disturbing and provocative” photographs that emerged in Bulgaria showing two boys at the Bulgarian Cup football finals with neo-Nazi symbols scrawled across their chests.
The incident has caused an outcry after pictures circulated online of the two boys, who appeared to be under 10, making the Nazi salute, at the Bulgarian Cup final between Levski Sofia and Slavia PFC in Sofia last Wednesday night.
The Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria “Shalom” strongly condemned the incident. It has referred the matter to the National Co-ordinator against Anti-Semitism, Deputy Minister Georg Georgiev.
“It is unacceptable that young children should be encouraged to exhibit such behaviour,” Shalom said.
“The World Jewish Congress stands with the Organisation of Jews in Bulgaria, Shalom, in categorically condemning the disgusting and cynical exploitation of children to spread messages of hate and intolerance,” said WJC CEO Robert Singer.
“Bulgaria has made enormous and welcome strides in recent years to fight anti-Semitism and has shown strong support and friendship for the Jewish community. We deeply appreciate the efforts being made by National Coordinator against Anti-Semitism Minister Georg Georgiev to this effect, and trust that he will continue to make it expressly clear that such manifestations of incitement will not be tolerated.”
“It is disturbing and provocative incidents like these that demonstrate the critical need to raise awareness of the ongoing reality of anti-Semitism in sports,” Singer said. “As we have seen far too often, what starts on the football pitch can quickly escalate to dangerous levels of hatred and violence. These trends are precisely the reason that the World Jewish Congress has partnered with Chelsea Football Club to combat the widespread phenomenon of anti-Semitism in sports. We will not rest until a zero-tolerance approach to anti-Semitism and all other bigotries is taken across the field.”