Antisemitic remarks shouted at St. Viator-Deerfield soccer game

Antisemitic slurs shouted by a spectator during a recent girls soccer playoff game between St. Viator High School and Deerfield High have been condemned by both schools.

The remarks during the May 23 game in Deerfield were aimed at Deerfield players, who represent a community with a sizable Jewish population.

“As a school community, we stand united against all acts of hatred on our campus, in our local communities, and across our nation and our globe,” Deerfield High School Principal Kathryn Anderson said in an email to the school community. “We will stand up and fight against prejudice.”

St. Viator is a private Catholic school. Its president, the Rev. Dan Lydon, publicly denounced the outbursts.

“The remarks … are deplorable and unacceptable,” Lydon said in a statement posted to the Arlington Heights school’s website. “Saint Viator High School and the entire Viatorian community make every effort to provide a community of faith that supports and recognizes those of all faiths. We strongly condemn antisemitism, and we will not tolerate hateful acts or discrimination of any kind.”

The comments were shouted by a male spectator during the game’s second half. They included references to the Holocaust, said Rabbi Richard Prass, who was in the crowd to cheer on the Deerfield High team. Prass’ daughter Ruth is on the squad.

The then-scoreless game was halted for about 10 minutes after a Deerfield player reported the slurs to game officials.

“The referees cleared the field, the players went to the benches,” Prass wrote on Facebook. “The next thing we heard was the person over the loudspeaker announced a warning (that) no hate speech would be allowed at this game.”



Once play resumed, St. Viator went on to win the Class 2A sectional semifinal contest 1-0.

During the traditional postgame handshake, Deerfield coach Rich Grady complained to St. Viator coach Byron DeLeon about the comments. In response, DeLeon said he’d look into the matter.

The fan who shouted the comments hasn’t been identified.

Anderson praised her school’s athletes for speaking up.

“No one should ever face this vile behavior or fear for their safety and security,” she said.

Anderson also thanked Prass, Deerfield coaches and athletic department officials for “bringing light to the darkness exposed on our campus.”

The Deerfield athletes are planning a public response to the slurs. They’re determined to enact change so no one else has to endure something like this, Grady said.



“I’m extremely proud of who they are and how they conduct themselves,” Grady said of his players.

St. Viator returned to Deerfield on Friday for the sectional championship game against Lake Forest.

A sign was posted at the entrance to the Deerfield High stadium proclaiming the school doesn’t tolerate “antisemitism, racism or any other hateful comments based on race, religion, gender or sexual orientation.” Similar signs will be posted at all Deerfield High athletic facilities, Grady said.

At the game, Deerfield’s public address announcer read a statement from Deerfield Athletic Director Nate Flannery denouncing the slurs. A donation to the Anti-Defamation League from Deerfield’s athletic department is pending, too.

Lake Forest beat St. Viator 1-0 in Friday’s match.

• Daily Herald correspondent Bill Esbrook contributed to this report.


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