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Religion | IN BRIEF

Jews Seek Boycott of Belarus Soccer Teams

August 16, 2003|From Times Wire Reports

MINSK, Belarus — Belorussian Jews and international Jewish organizations have appealed to soccer's governing bodies to boycott teams from this former Soviet republic because of the renovation of a soccer stadium built over a Jewish cemetery.

Construction workers began enlarging Grodno's Niemen stadium in January, dumping aside truckloads of dirt that also contained human jawbones, broken headstones, gold teeth and even entire skulls.

The bones are the remnants of a once-vibrant Jewish community that was nearly wiped out in World War II. In 1953, the stadium was built over the cemetery, which had held the remains of about 14,000 people.

The Jewish community and its supporters abroad hope that soccer's world and European ruling bodies will penalize Belorussian soccer teams.

Government officials in Grodno said that they are searching for a solution to the problem, but that stopping the reconstruction is out of the question. City authorities have said they ordered workers to collect bones found at the stadium for reburial.

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