Maccabi Tel Aviv owner Mitch Goldhar spoke out vehemently on Tuesday against the recent racist chants directed at the club’s midfielder Maharan Radi, while police announced that it would open an investigation regarding the latest incident.
A handful of Maccabi fans verbally abused the Israeli-Arab midfielder in the team’s training session at Kiryat Shalom on Sunday, the latest in a string of similar incidents in which Radi was attacked by a small group of so-called supporters.
Following pressure by Israel’s Minister of Culture and Sports Limor Livnat, a police inquiry was launched on Tuesday, with Goldhar making his feelings felt with an unequivocal statement after doing his utmost to eradicate the problem over recent years.
“Hatred, intolerance or abusive behavior against anyone on the basis of their race is malicious and morally corrupt,” Goldhar said. “Racist behavior by a Jew is perverse. Racism at large is not my specific responsibility, though I will stand strongly against it. But when racism is directed at any individual or organization for which I am specifically responsible, particularly at Maccabi Tel Aviv, I will use every instrument and resource available to me to protect them.”
Maccabi had tried dealing with the delinquent fans by suspending their season tickets, but struggled to prove its case in court when the supporters appealed. “Racism will be met with rebuke and forceful deterrent. We will not tolerate racism at Maccabi Tel Aviv,” added Goldhar. “I have instructed the legal adviser to take all steps necessary to identify and prosecute any individual involved, directly or indirectly with racist behavior affecting Maccabi Tel Aviv. Further, any individual involved with racist behavior of any variety is at odds with Maccabi Tel Aviv’s principles and thus by definition cannot be a supporter or fan of our team.”
The club’s players have also rallied behind their teammate Radi.
“Even if just one percent of our fans act in a racist manner we need to make sure we uproot that minority,” said defender Eitan Tibi. “I’m sure the club will overcome this. We are a team and we are here for each other.
That was the key to our success in recent seasons and if that changes we will fail. We couldn’t have achieved such success over the past two seasons without our many fans and I hope we can rid ourselves of this small group soon.”