Listen to this story:
NEW YORK – An investigation into a brawl at the end of a Feb. 15 soccer match in Florida between a Catholic and a Jewish high school, which many ascribe to antisemitic behavior from Catholic school students, has led the Archdiocese of Miami to apologize and to commit to new Jewish-based programming in its schools.
In now-viral video from the end of the February state tournament match between Archbishop Coleman Carroll High School and the Scheck Hillel Community School, players from both teams are seen fighting near the sidelines. Both benches clear, and people jump down from the bleachers to join the fray.
Afterwards, parents of students from Scheck Hillel alleged that Archbishop Coleman Carroll students had uttered antisemitic slurs throughout the match, including “Hitler was right.” A joint statement from Scheck Hillel and Archdiocese of Miami Superintendent of Catholic Schools Jim Rigg on March 30 didn’t reveal what the investigation found, or what caused the brawl, but alluded to Archbishop Coleman Carroll students using antisemitic language and being at fault.
Rigg did not respond to a Crux request for comment on what discipline might be imposed on the students, and what the investigation found.
“There is never any cause for disrespectful behavior, and the Archdiocese regrets student actions that are antisemitic and/or otherwise demean an individual or community,” the joint statement reads. “Sincere apologies have been extended by the Archdiocese, and these apologies have been accepted.”
Accompanying the apology was a commitment from Rigg to educate Archdiocese of Miami students on the Jewish faith. Since the incident, archdiocesan officials are said to have met with individuals and organizations in South Florida to learn about the Jewish community, which led to the new programming.
This programming will include specific units of study for all 9th grade students, as well as participation in local seminars and field trips to Jewish sites. Conversely, Scheck Hillel will work to further expand student programming to educate and empower its students how to respond to antisemitism, and how to serve as advocates to overcome all types of hate, according to the joint statement.
“In the days to come, officials from the Archdiocese and Scheck Hillel will meet with education leaders from the Jewish community at the Holocaust Documentation and Education Center to further define the plan, explore further collaborations, and build an even deeper relationship,” the joint statement reads.
“We see these steps as essential to broadening an understanding of one another’s faith, history and people,” it continued. “We pledge to continue this essential work, learning together as we further explore a relationship built on mutual respect and a commitment to spread God’s goodness through the modern world.”
Archbishop Carroll’s team won the game to qualify for the semifinals, but forfeited its next match after the incident.
An earlier statement from Scheck Hillel said the school’s own investigation concluded there had been “acts of clear, unequivocal antisemitism” during and after the game, though it also blamed the physical altercation on “heated emotions and aggression, not antisemitism.”
Follow John Lavenburg on Twitter: @johnlavenburg