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Israeli soccer club's fans object to Muslim players
Published Sunday 27/01/2013 (updated) 28/01/2013 16:08
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Supporters of Beitar Jerusalem soccer club hold a banner reading
"Beitar will always remain pure" during a Premier League match in
Jerusalem, Jan. 26, 2013. (Reuters/Stringer)

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.
1 ) Israeli1 / Israel
27/01/2013 19:09
Islam is not a race. The use of the word racism is absurd. Islam is an ideology.

2 ) JoeUSA / USA
27/01/2013 20:51
The term "Racism" is loosely used here as "prejudiced against". By the way Islam is not an ideology , it is a faith. You know there is a big difference between an ideology and faith.....

3 ) johnny benson / usa
27/01/2013 22:20
.coming..from a right winger .....considering these muslim players have done no wrong...i feel they should be allowed to play or coach....its only fair

4 ) Mel / USA
28/01/2013 00:17
#1:"Islam is an ideology"?Wow,U sound as'bright'as those bigotted morons waving the banners! Islam is a monotheist faith!Just as Judaism &Christianity is.But,Absolutist,Revisionist ZIONISM is a myopic ideology,just like Salafism,Wahhabism & Christian Zionist 'Evanzealicals'.ALL of whom SHAME their faiths & pervert it,to suit their OWN ideo-political GREED!Time for fans to BAN such morons,for a whole season,or IFA to BAN Beitar J. &FIFA sanction it from international circuit!No fans=no gate!

5 ) gabi / australia
28/01/2013 01:38
" . . . always remain pure" reminds me of what happened in Germany, all those years ago

6 ) ian / australia
28/01/2013 05:23
If the objected to players were Arabs, then "anti-Semitism" (strictly speaking) could be the offence Beitar Jerusalem (and the supporters with the banner) are guilty of. As they are Chechen, it's Islamophobia. Or anti-Muslim hatred. Religious, not racial, discrimination. Either way, it's not pretty and a criminal offence. In other countries, not all, but most, including Australia, police would move in, confiscate the banner and charge the people holding it (and maybe the club) with hate crimes

7 ) ian / australia
28/01/2013 05:25
(contd.) and incitement. While one appreciates this is minority behaviour by football hooligan and that Beitar stands out as an esp. bad offender, you almost feel for the "hooligans", who, having been brought up as Zionists, might ask in bewilderment, but isn't this what we're SUPPOSED to do?

8 ) Reader / from Edmonton
28/01/2013 09:19
Zionism is an ideology, Judaism is a faith, Jew is an assortment of Semitic and non-Semitic races, for example.

9 ) Charity Clayton / UK
28/01/2013 09:58
Tbe Deputy Prime Minister should wake up and look around. He presides over a country which is rotten to the core with apartheid and terrible mistreatment of those not in his Zionist 'club'. Such an attitude, coming from one in his position, is laughable.

10 ) Moh'ed Hared / US
28/01/2013 11:34
It is sad how they think we should be focusing on why the fans are hating or not when we're in fact focused on the atrocities and the occupation of men with illegal weapons of mass destruction against fellow human being. This is not news, it is rather a diversion of our attention, which shall not happen until humanity is alive. Free Palestine!

11 ) BOYCOTT / .PS
28/01/2013 12:12
arabs and muslims especially non palestinian should boycott isreal.

12 ) Anonymous / USA
28/01/2013 14:30
If you read the article completely, the club is opposed to Muslim and ARAB players. So the term racism is not used loosely here. Islam is NOT an ideology and Judaism is a faith but many have turned it into an identity. Since that is the case, Islam can be an identity as well. I love how Jews still throw a hissy fit about anti-semitism when most of them descended from converts. No, you don't have the right to terrorize people out of their homes, converts or not.

13 ) dickerson3870 / U.S.A.
28/01/2013 23:21
A LITTLE BE(I)TARIM BACKGROUND FROM WIKIPEDIA [Betar]: (EXCERPT) The Betar Movement (also spelled Beitar) is a Revisionist Zionist youth movement founded in 1923 in Riga, Latvia, by Vladimir (Ze’ev) Jabotinsky. Betar . . . was closely affiliated with the pre-Israel Revisionist Zionist splinter group Irgun Zevai Leumi. . . . The group initially praised Mussolini for his anti-communism and fascist principles, leading it to adopt the black uniform shirt of Italian fascism for a short period . . .

14 ) Kvetcher / Poland
29/01/2013 07:56
#11 states: ''arabs and muslims especially non palestinian should boycott isreal.'' But the facts are in 64 years they have not. Do you wonder why?

15 ) Carlos / USA
29/01/2013 19:20
Please do not wonder why people have not boycotted or sanctioned israel. There is still time to boycott and sanction israel. I personally bought a computer in which I specifically asked for AMD processor so I would not buy an israeli made intel chip. Yesterday I returned a red bell pepper to the supermarket when I saw "product of israel". I got my money back too. Please feel free to boycott and sanction israel in many many ways.

16 ) Rosa Kleb / Russia
29/01/2013 19:39
As the word marks holocaust day - how ironic!
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