Police arrested four people late on Tuesday night suspected of torching the
offices of Beitar Jerusalem last Friday amid furor over the team’s decision to
sign two Muslim players from Chechnya.
The fire early last Friday morning
caused extensive damage to the offices and destroyed team memorabilia.
was the most violent event in more than two weeks of incidents between fanatic
Beitar supporters angry at Beitar management for signing two Muslim players.
Police arrested more than 25 people for throwing rocks at players’ cards,
harassing and attacking team security guards, and protesting outside of
Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby said the four men
arrested Tuesday night identified themselves as members of La Familia, a
hard-core group of Beitar fans known for chanting “Death to Arabs!” at matches.
The men are from the Center of the country.
Detectives questioned the men
on Wednesday in Jerusalem. Ben-Ruby said he expects the police to make
additional arrests in connection with the arson.
Also on Wednesday,
Beitar midfielder Ofir Kriaf was suspended by the club until Monday after
showing support for the La Familia fan club on his Facebook page. Kriaf will
miss Sunday’s match at Hapoel Haifa.
The Israel Football Association’s
disciplinary court also turned down Beitar’s appeal on Wednesday against the
closure of the East Stand at Teddy Stadium for five matches.
court handed Beitar the punishment after fans raised a banner reading “Beitar
Pure Forever” and sang anti- Arab chants during the 1-0 defeat to Bnei Yehuda on
The Eastern Stand is traditionally the place where fans from
La Familia sit.
Fans were not allowed to enter the Eastern Stand for
Sunday’s match against Bnei Sakhnin and it will remain shut for the team’s next
four homes games. Instead, the team covered the empty seats with giant posters
decrying recent events. “Violence and racism? Not on our fields!” read one at
the recent game against Bnei Sakhnin.
Public Security Minister Yitzhak
Aharonovitch is scheduled to meet with the management of soccer teams on
Thursday to discuss the recent spate of violence in soccer.