Investigation launched after parent at London club 'refuses to let teen son play football against Jewish kids'

Stock photo of young boy playing football  (REX/Shutterstock)
Stock photo of young boy playing football (REX/Shutterstock)

A football club has begun an investigation after a parent reportedly pulled their son out of an under-14s game because they did not want him playing with Jewish children.

Panthera FC, based in north London, was due to play a match against Maccabi Lions on Sunday.

But Panthera FC's team had to take to the field with just nine players because the parent of one of its members refused to allow their child to take part in a match against the Jewish team, according to Jewish News.

The outlet published a letter sent by the club to parents on Monday morning which said the incident would be investigated.

The note went on: "We will not hesitate to take appropriate action, including removal from our club. Our priority is to create an environment where every child can thrive, where the richness of diversity is celebrated and where prejudice has no place.

“If you, as parents, harbour prejudice of any kind that could affect your child’s experience or our culture of inclusivity, then we must be honest – this may not be the right club for you."

The club has since posted a statement on its website which says: "Panthera Football Club want to make it unequivocally clear that as a club, we do not tolerate any form of racism, discrimination, or abuse of any kind. We stand firmly against all manifestations of racism and are dedicated to promoting a culture of inclusivity and unity.

"We believe that football is for everyone. It should be enjoyed by anyone who wants to participate in it, whether as a player, official, staff member, volunteer or spectator. We aim to bring people together in a way that supports positive change, makes people feel valued and improves the lives of people both on and off the pitch.

"Our commitment to inclusivity is woven into the fabric of who we are as a club, and this is reflected in the diversity of our coaches, members and their families. We join hands with those who are working tirelessly to eliminate racism from the beautiful game and from society as a whole and are committed to creating an environment where the richness of diversity is celebrated, and where prejudice has no place.

"Any form of racism, intimidation, discrimination or abuse has no place at Panthera Football Club and will be investigated fully and may result in removal from our club. Please remember we are dealing with children, and we are all responsible for the safeguarding and wellbeing of children and we take this role very seriously.

"We will not tolerate, as with any racism or discrimination, any incidents of intimidation by or against any member of the club and especially against children and any reports of this will also be investigated and reported to the Middlesex FA and may result in removal from the club."

Maccabi Lions has not issued a public statement. The Evening Standard has contacted the club for comment.

Tensions are high all over the world as the war rages on in the Middle East, with a sevenfold increase in anti-Semitic incidents recorded in the UK since Hamas' October 7 attack as of two weeks ago.

Similarly, there has been “appalling surge” in Islamophobia, with mosques “forced to ramp up security”, according to Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.