Last Thursday, Ambassador Sermoneta invited President of the Independiente Santa Fe club and his deputy for a meeting at the Israeli embassy.
"As an avid soccer fan, I enjoy integrating it into my day job, especially in a country like Colombia. During my tenure here, I attended—sometimes as a guest—a number of games between local teams, as well as national team matches," the ambassador explained.
During the visit, the two gave the ambassador an official team shirt, which the ambassador described as "one of the local soccer lions."
At the end of the meeting, a picture from the event was posted on the club’s official Twitter account, accompanied by the text: "We welcome our honorary fan, the Israeli ambassador to Colombia."
From that point things began to unravel as many angry fans attacked the team’s social media account.
"The tweet has angered some of the fans who have been harassing the account by posting dozens of pro-Palestinian chants, with many being anti-Israeli and even anti-Semitic. This eventually led Santa Fe to remove the tweet from its official account, despite hundreds of likes it received,” Sermoneta said.
Following the removal of the tweet, the president of the club called the ambassador to explain that the club’s social media team deleted the picture in light of "wild attacks” and in order to avoid “unpleasantness."
The ambassador said he received an apology and an invitation to a match from the club’s president.
"The president repeated his kind words to me and invited me to be a guest at one of his team's next matches. I thanked him for his good intentions, but I stressed my position that one must not give in to wild attacks," Sermoneta concluded.
The incident received widespread media attention in Colombia. One of the leading morning shows in the country reported on it, saying the issue should have been dealt with much more sternly.
"Anywhere else in the world, such an incident would have been perceived as serious," one of the show's anchors said.
The show’s production even tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to get a response from the club president, but he was on a flight at the time and therefore unavailable.
After the image was removed, Sermoneta shared the deleted picture on his own official Twitter account and added another image, which shows the ambassador wearing the aforementioned shirt with an Israeli flag in the background.