Israeli lawmaker calls for outlawing racist soccer fan group

Netanyahu, Erdan slam Beitar supporters who rioted in Belgium; police question returning fans at Ben-Gurion Airport.

By
July 18, 2015 17:56
2 minute read.
Fans of Beitar Jerusalem shout slogans during a match against Bnei Sakhnin

Fans of Beitar Jerusalem shout slogans during a match against Bnei Sakhnin as part of the Israeli Premier League. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan on Friday agreed to work on finding ways to prosecute Beitar FC fans who took part in hooliganism during the club’s match against Sporting Charleroi in Belgium Thursday.

Netanyahu on Friday condemned "a small group of Beitar Jerusalem fans" who "besmirched an entire fan base and harmed the country's image".

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


On Friday, Israel police deployed in force at Ben-Gurion international airport in an effort to find and question Beitar fans suspected of taking part in the mayhem. By Saturday evening they had detained and questioned several Beitar FC fans at the airport, but no arrests were reported.

During the team’s abysmal 5-1 loss to Sporting Charleroi in Belgium Thursday, Beitar fans threw smoke grenades and flares onto the field, stopping the match and lightly injuring the opposing team’s goalkeeper. Already at the beginning of the match play was delayed for three minutes after Beitar fans threw multiple flares onto the pitch and injured the Charleroi goalkeeper, who was hit by an object that appeared to come from the Beitar section behind his goal.

Beitar fans were also involved in scuffles outside the stadium before the match and the club is expected to face punishment by UEFA in the coming weeks.

It was the latest controversial display by supporters of the team, which has drawn rebuke in the past for being the only squad in Israeli soccer to not field Arab players and for the racist chants performed during games by their fans.  

Following the match in the city of Charleroi, Beitar FC owner Eli Tabib expressed his disgust at the incident and vowed that he was finished with football.



On Friday evening, the national police spokesperson’s office said that top officials had held a situation assessment earlier in the day and after consulting with the Jerusalem District Prosecutor’s office reached the decision to task the Jerusalem Police district with the investigation, which they will handle in collaboration with law enforcement authorities in Belgium.

As the controversy raged back in Israel, Beitar supporters said in their defense that supporters of Sporting Charleroi made anti-Semitic chants, and performed the Nazi salute and unfurled a Palestinian flag.

Also over the weekend, MK Yoel Razbozov (Yesh Atid) wrote Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein and asked that Beitar’s "La Familia" group of hardcore fans be declared an illegal outfit.

MK David Amsalem (Likud), himself a Beitar fan, said he was disturbed by the fans’ behavior during the match, describing it as a “fringe element time and against manages to besmirch a large, glorious organization.”

He also called on Tabib to reconsider his decision to leave the team.

Related Content

August 21, 2018
‘Foxtrot,’ ‘Longing’ get European Film Award nods

By AMY SPIRO