Footballer depicted as Holocaust victim in mural after Feynoord to Ajax transfer
The municipality of Rotterdam removed an anti-Semitic mural from the wall of the Schuttersveld on Sunday. The graffiti depicted football player Steven Berghuis, who recently transferred from Feyenoord to rivals Ajax, as a victim of the Holocaust. CIDI, the center for information and documentation on Israel, demanded an apology from Feyenoord, AD reports.
The mural on the wall of the Schuttersveld, which measured about four by four meters, showed Berghuis wearing the gray and whites worn by Jewish people in Nazi concentration camps. It also included text that read "Jews always run away", translated from Dutch. The perpetrators behind this graffiti were not yet identified, but it is believed that Feyenoord fans were responsible.
Feyenoord and Ajax are rivals in the Dutch football world, with matches between the two teams regularly resulting in clashes between fans. Berghuis was Feyenoord's captain, and his transfer to Ajax did not sit well with many Feyenoord fans. Ajax has long been viewed by some as a “Jewish” team because the team is based in Amsterdam, though it has never actually had an affiliation with any Jewish organization. Anti-Semitic chants targeting Ajax and its fans, who sometimes refer to themselves as "Super Jews", have gone on for decades.
The municipality of Rotterdam removed the graffiti immediately after it was reported on Sunday morning, a spokesperson for Stadsbeheer said to AD. "This was so shocking and discriminatory that we immediately removed it. A special team is available 24 hours a day for this. Drawings that are not so bad are removed within three days. But this had to go right away. That was clear."
Feyenoord called the graffiti "terrible and disgusting". "This really has to stop," spokesperson Raymond Salomon said to the newspaper. "They want to attract attention in a disgusting way. We distance ourselves from this in every possible way." Feyenoord is looking into whether it will be possible to ban the perpetrators from the stadium for future Feyenoord matches.
CIDI called the mural "a new low in football country". The fact that Feyenoord distanced itself from the graffiti and is looking into stadium bans is a good signal, but CIDI thinks an apology is also called for. The organization also proposed that the perpetrators be offered a visit to Auschwitz or the Anne Frank House, "so that people realize and understand the seriousness of the problems."
Berghuis was also threatened earlier this month, with a photo spread on social media. The photo showed a banner with the names "Polletje", Peter R. de Vries, and Berghuis. Polletje and De Vries had check marks behind their names, Berghuis did not. According to AD, "Polletje" is Ajax supporter Martin van de Pol, who was assassinated earlier this year. Crime writer De Vries was assassinated in Amsterdam earlier this month.