KUALA LUMPUR, July 28 — English Premier League side Chelsea have filed an official complaint with Malaysian football authorities over what they say were anti-semitic taunts targeted at the club’s Israeli midfielder, Yossi Benayoun, during their friendly here last week.
According to a report in UK daily The Guardian, Chelsea had initially doubted that the chants were related to Benayoun’s nationality but later probes revealed that anti-semitism was involved in the crowd abuse.
“Notwithstanding most fans behaving appropriately on the night, we believe Yossi was subjected to anti-semitic abuse by a number of supporters at the game,” a club spokesman was quoted in The Guardian’s article. “Such behaviour is offensive, totally unacceptable and has no place in football.”
Benayoun was booed by Malaysian fans whenever he went near the ball during the friendly game at Bukit Jalil last week, and was relentlessly taunted throughout his entire stint during the first half.
Muslim-majority Malaysia is an ardent supporter of Palestine and has no diplomatic ties with Israel.
Muslim politicians have long vied for support from Malays by denouncing what they say is inhumane aggression from Israel towards its neighbour.
The formal complaint by the club now increases the likelihood of sanctions against Malaysia by football’s governing body, Fifa, which has taken a hard stance against racism in the game.
Chelsea won the friendly 1 – 0, with a goal by Didier Drogba.