Beitar Jerusalem coach Guy Levy.
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)
Comments made by Beitar Jerusalem coach Guy Levy saying he feels it would be wrong for the team to sign an Arab player at this time caused a storm in Israeli soccer on Tuesday.
In an interview with 102FM radio station on Monday, Levy didn’t mince words and said he wouldn’t bring aboard an Arab player as it would create “unnecessary tension” and would result in more harm than good.
He claimed he wouldn’t even sign Israel international Bibras Natcho as he is a Circassian Muslim and his addition would cause an unwelcome stir among some of the club’s supporters.
“It isn’t that I have any objection to any particular nationality or faith, but if it heightens the tension it will only cause damage so there is no point,” said Levy.
“My job is to coach the team, not to educate anyone,” added Levy before speaking highly of the La Familia fan group, which is known for its racist stance towards Arabs.
Levy released a statement on Tuesday in which he insisted that his interview didn’t include a single racist remark.
“My presentation as a racist is ridiculous,” Levy wrote. “I made clear that I have no problem with any race or nationality.”
Nevertheless, Israel Football Association chairman Ofer Eini spoke out against Levy’s comments on Tuesday.
“Levy’s words are not appropriate and their racist scent certainly doesn’t contribute to Israeli soccer and Israeli society,” an Eini statement read. “As a coach and an educator it would have been better had he avoided comments which can serve those who want to divide Israeli society.”
Natcho answered Levy on Twitter.
“What would happen if a European coach would have announced that he doesn’t want a Jewish player on his team?” was the question the CSKA Moscow midfielder raised.