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Israeli football fans mutiny against Muslims in squad

Published time: January 27, 2013 14:32
Edited time: January 27, 2013 18:32
Beitar Jerusalem fans (AFP Photo/Menahem Kahana)

Beitar Jerusalem fans (AFP Photo/Menahem Kahana)

A group of the Jerusalem-based Beitar fans have lashed out at the club’s boss’s decision to bring two Muslims from the Russian Chechen republic into the squad.

At the latest Israeli domestic championship’s game on Saturday, a group of Beitar Jerusalem supporters, reportedly known as La Familia, held a banner reading “Beitar will always remain pure”. The more moderate central stands howled down the move.

Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon lined up with the latter group.

“I was shocked by the racism displayed in the Beitar Jerusalem stands yesterday against having Muslim or Arab players on the team. We cannot ignore these displays of racism which not long ago were directed – and are still being directed – towards the Jewish people,” Euronews website quotes his tweet.

The club’s supporters are widely known in the region for their right-wing political views, while the team remains the only leading one in the country never to have signed an Arab player because of fan pressure.

The club’s owner, Russian-born billionaire Arkady Gaydamak, says he would bring the two Chechens, Zaur Sadayev and Dzhabrail Kadiyev from Russian Premier League side Terek Grozny to Israel anyway.

Gaydamak made it clear in an interview with Israeli Army Radio. “The small group of so-called supporters do not represent the general opinion of the Israeli public, and they should not be allowed to win,” he said.