Leeds University football match postponed between the Jewish and Arab societies due to feelings of discomfort

One of our writers discusses the situation between Jewish and Arab football teams at Leeds University.

Sarah Myles
29th November 2023
The ongoing Israel-Hamas war has resulted in players from the Arab football society at Leeds University feeling uncomfortable playing football against the Jewish society.

Hapoel Hyde Park were set to play Leeds ArabSoc FC on Wednesday November 1st, however, the night before the match, the captain of the Arab society announced the team’s decision to postpone the game. 

Leeds University Union stated on Friday evening: “We are investigating a matter raised about a postponed society league match, and are communicating with the societies involved. This investigation will follow our complaints procedure. While it is important to carry out a full investigation, it is also important to stress that antisemitism or Islamophobia have no place on our campus.”

Hapoel Hyde Park football club have since stated: “To us, this is a blatant act of antisemitism, with players refusing to play against us as the Jewish Society.” They have further stated that “In the face of antisemitism, we will not be silent and we will hold those who perpetuate and enable it accountable.”

Many comments have been made by several associations and individuals regarding the situation. 

Ex player and manager Jack Isaacs who graduated from Leeds university in 2022 has added: “Those who have discriminated against this Jewish football team should face consequences, removal from the university and be reported to the police.”

A spokesperson for antisemitism charity CST has also said: “Campus-related antisemitic incidents have hit record numbers this month.”

Moreover, Jasper van Veen, Hapoel Hyde Park’s manager, has said that he was “devastated” by what had happened, and ensured that the club was encouraging other Jewish sports teams to support each other and stand up for ourselves.”

The president of Leeds’ Jewish society, Joel Herman has commented on the situation stating, “Unfortunately, this is not the first act which has taken place, but this is the most blatant form.” He added that Jewish students in Leeds felt “threatened and unsafe” and that the conflict in Gaza should not be impacting the Jewish society.

Joel Herman asks for “urgent support and comfort from the union and the university in these hard times.”

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