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French footballer threatens to leave Israel amid racist abuse

November 12, 2019 at 2:20 pm

French footballer Antoine Conte, 11 November 2019 [Antoine Conte/Instagram]

French footballer Antoine Conte has said racist abuse may force him to leave Israel, reported Xinhua.

Conte, who plays for Beitar Jerusalem, suffered abuse during a match on Sunday against Maccabi Haifa, with some supporters “taunted him for the colour of his skin and made monkey chants”.

After the game, Conte commented on his Instagram account: “I have the impression that it has become normal to emit cries of monkeys in football stadiums to some black players. We are not animals [or] monkeys. It’s sad that in 2019 people do this kind of stupidity.”

The defender noted that it was not the first time he had experienced such abuse in the Israeli league, then added: “I really hope the league will take care of that because otherwise I will no longer put my feet here on a soccer pitch”.

READ: 42% of Muslims in France harassed at least once

Israel’s Minister of Sports, Miri Regev, said she was “shocked by the racist behaviour, this is a clear red line that leaves Israeli sports in the shadow of events that must not happen.”

Beitar Jerusalem’s fans have long been notorious for racist chanting during matches, with the club reportedly making efforts to clean up the club’s image.

After Sunday’s incident, the club urged punishment for the fans responsible, saying “such events are published all over the world and leave a scar on both Israeli soccer and Antoine’s heart”.

Minister Regev herself has previously been accused of stirring up racial hatred for her remarks about African migrants, who she once described as “a cancer”.