Beitar Jerusalem announced yesterday that its players will leave the pitch before or during matches should the club’s fans continue singing racist songs..
(photo credit: DANNY MAARON)
Beitar Jerusalem players will walk off the pitch, risking a technical defeat and punishment from the Israel Football Association, should its fans chant racist songs, the club announced on Wednesday.
The club’s appeal against a two-point deduction was accepted by the IFA’s High Court on Sunday. But it still has a suspended two-point deduction hanging over its head and owner Eli Tabib decided on Wednesday to up the ante in his fight against those fans who take pride in their racist views.
Beitar was initially deducted the points for the racist behavior of its supporters during the State Cup quarterfinal tie against Ironi Kiryat Shmona.
Beitar was outraged with the ruling after presenting the court with evidence of all that it is doing to eliminate such behavior, including the arrest of 11 supporters during the match against Maccabi Haifa.
“We are announcing that if racist songs will be heard from the stand occupied by Beitar Jerusalem fans, the team will leave the pitch, whether during the match or during the warm-up. It will not return to the pitch, with all the consequences of such an act being clear to us, including the possible cancellation of the match,” read Beitar’s statement.
“If in European play these songs are treated as racist and resulted in the club being punished harshly – financially and professionally and mainly from a reputation standpoint, we feel that these songs should also be treated as racist in Israel,” added the club.
“These songs could result in the club being suspended from European play for many years. Being a top club in Israel depends directly on consistent participation in continental competitions. Without that, a big club like Beitar Jerusalem has no right to exist in Israeli soccer.”
The club claimed that one of the reasons for the decision is so that families will feel welcome in Beitar matches.
“No parent can accept that his children will be present in such an atmosphere of hate and racism,” the club noted.
Beitar’s new policy will be under the spotlight for the first time on Saturday when the team visits Maccabi Haifa.
With the IFA High Court canceling the deduction, Beitar moved four points clear of Haifa, while sitting only five points back of Maccabi Petah Tikva in third place.
Finishing in third will lead to a place in the Europa League qualifiers next season.
Fourth place will also be good enough for a berth in continental competition should either Maccabi Tel Aviv or Beitar Jerusalem win the State Cup and also finish in the top three. Beitar faces Maccabi Tel Aviv in the cup semifinals in Haifa next Wednesday.
Beitar picks up Conte’s option Even though it still doesn’t know if it will play in Europe next season, Jerusalem is already busy preparing for 2017/18.
The club picked up its option on French defender Antoine Conte, turning his loan deal into a full-time move by paying French club Reims 500,000 euros. That is the highest sum Beitar has paid for a player since Tabib took over the club.
The 23-year-old defender has impressed since joining the side in the January transfer window. He was desperate for a new start in Israel after being detained by French police in December, suspected of having gravely injured a 19-year-old man in an incident in Reims, causing a brain hemorrhage.
According to reports, Conte allegedly became violent towards his partner at his home and when she ran out into the street seeking help a male passer-by tried to intervene and was hit with a baseball bat.