September 8, 2011
ESPN Taking a Stand
ESPN REMOVING ANTI-SEMITIC LEAGUES FROM ITS ONLINE FANTASY FOOTBALL
‘They May Have Been Fantasy Leagues but the hate is all too real’
New York – NY September 8, 2011- At the urging of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, ESPN is moving quickly to remove anti-Semitic leagues from their Fantasy Football. The names “Jews are Immoral,” another “Jews Are Terrible,” with banners and mottos reading “Burn Jews Wherever Possible” (screenshots available at www.wiesenthal.com), still another league, “Jews love pennies” lists President Obama as its creator.
“They may have been Fantasy Leagues, but the hate is all too real,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a leading Jewish human rights organization. Rabbi Cooper who heads up the Center’s Digital Terrorism and Hate Project, adding, “This is another example of bigots leveraging Internet portals to demean their ‘enemies’ and recruit for their causes. Unfortunately, the targeted enemy in this case was a Jewish father who was about to sign up his son to ESPN Fantasy Football,” Cooper said.
Wiesenthal Center and senior ESPN officials were in contact late yesterday and the process of removing the offensive material has begun. In an email from ESPN’s Vice President of Communications, Josh Krulewitz stated in part:
“...offensive hate speech like the examples discussed here, have absolutely no place on our site. While we have systems in place to minimize the possibility for inappropriate team and league names, clearly with millions of users and deceptive ways around the safeguards, we can never completely eliminate it. We very much appreciate when it’s brought to our attention like you did in this case, and when it is, we pledge to move swiftly to address each case…the entry period for fantasy football is ending soon so no additional entries will be allowed. We will use that time to reflect on how we can improve this going forward. Thanks so much for your valued input.”
“ESPN responded quickly and in good faith to our concerns and we trust that ESPN will take all necessary steps to make it as difficult as possible for any racist or anti-Semite to leverage their popular site,” Cooper concluded.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).
For more information, please contact the Center’s Public Relations Department, 310-553-9036, join the Center on Facebook, www.facebook.com/simonwiesenthalcenter, or follow @simonwiesenthal for news updates sent direct to your Twitter page or mobile device.