Tuesday, Sept. 01
Latest News
  1. Turkish court arrests British journalists on terror charges
  2. Locals: Boko Haram kills nearly 80 in NE Nigeria villages
  3. Austria smuggler crackdown as Europe divided over migrant crisis
  4. 'Largest ever' Med gas field found off Egypt
  5. Egypt muezzin suspended over 'Facebook prayer call'
  6. 3 Canadians, Pakistani, Nigerian among dead in Saudi fire
  7. 'A Sinner in Mecca' documents gay Muslim pilgrimage
  8. A year on, Yazidis so close yet so far from Iraq hub
  9. Delayed Egypt elections to start on October 17
  10. Blast at Syria's Palmyra prompts fears for famed temple
  11. 11 dead, dozens hurt in fire at Saudi oil giant housing complex
  12. Red Crescent: 7 bodies wash up on Libya beach
  13. Egypt elections to start on October 17
  14. Kuwaiti MP: Iran is 'true enemy' of Gulf Arabs
  15. Iran bars Barenboim, thwarting Tehran concert plan
  16. Qatar exports plunge over 40 pct in year
  17. Beheaded Syriac bishop beatified a century after death
  18. Hungary police make new arrest over Austrian migrant tragedy
  19. Berlin, Paris, London seek urgent EU meeting on migrant crisis
  20. French PM: Migrants fleeing war, persecution must be let in

Israeli soccer club's fans object to Muslim players

Jan. 27, 2013 4:26 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 28, 2013 4:08 P.M.)
By: Ori Lewis
JERUSALEM (Reuters) -- An Israeli soccer club notorious for the anti-Arab chants of its fans plans to recruit two Muslim players, fueling protests in the stands that a senior cabinet minister condemned as shocking and racist.

At a Premier League game on Saturday, Beitar Jerusalem supporters held a banner reading "Beitar will always remain pure". Other signs hoisted by fans also protested against its owner's intention to have two Muslim Chechen players join.

The Beitar club is a bastion of Israel's political right-wing and the only leading soccer team in the country never to have signed an Arab player because of fan pressure.

A Muslim player, Nigerian defender Ibrahim Nadalla, was on the team briefly in 2005 but left after experiencing consistent hostility from its supporters.

"I was shocked by the racism displayed in the Beitar Jerusalem stands yesterday against having Muslim or Arab players on the team," Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon said on Sunday.

"We cannot ignore these displays of racism which not long ago were directed - and are still being directed - towards the Jewish people," he wrote on Twitter.

Police at the match arrested three supporters on suspicion of incitement, and they were due to appear in court later on Sunday, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

The Israel Football Association said it would take disciplinary action against the club. In a ruling against the team a year ago, an IFA court said that Beitar Jerusalem "had not made an honest effort to combat fans' racist chants."

Beitar Jerusalem is owned by Russian-born billionaire Arkady Gaydamak. He said he would not be deterred from bringing the two Chechens, Zaur Sadayev and Dzhabrail Kadiyev, from Russian premier league club Terek Grozny to Israel later in the week.

Gaydamak told Israeli Army Radio the "small group of so-called supporters" of Beitar Jerusalem "do not represent the general opinion of the Israeli public, and they should not be allowed to win."

Palestinians citizens of Israel make up around 20 percent of the country's 7.8 million population and no other Israeli club, many of whom have Arab players, has ever effectively barred them. Arab players have long been included in Israel's national team.

Beitar Jerusalem is now in fourth place in the Premier League, a position that could earn it a place in European club play next season.

Rifaat Turk, the first Arab to play for Israel's national team during an international career from 1976 to 1986, said Beitar Jerusalem's fans had shown "wanton racism". He called on the IFA to take firm action against the club.
Powered By: HTD Technologies
Ma'an News Agency
All rights reserved © 2005-2015