(photo credit: (Adi Avishai))
Betar Jerusalem owner Arkadi Gaydamak vowed not to yield to the racist minority
of his club’s supporters on Sunday as the sports world and senior ministers
alike condemned the anti-Muslim bigotry displayed by fans at Teddy Stadium
during Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to Bnei Yehuda.
The Betar supporters reacted
angrily to Gaydamak’s announcement that the club plans to sign Muslims Dzhabrail
Kadiyev and Zaur Sadayev from Chechen club Terek Grozny, raising banners
reading: “Betar [will be] pure forever” and “70 years of values,” with numerous
fans also voicing their opposition to Muslim players joining the club by singing
A Muslim player, Nigerian defender Ibrahim Nadalla, was
on the team briefly in 2005 but left after experiencing consistent hostility
from its supporters.
Gaydamak told Israeli Army Radio the “small group of
so-called supporters” of Betar “do not represent the general opinion of the
Israeli public, and they should not be allowed to win.”
Betar will stand
trial for the conduct of its fans at the Israel Football Association’s
disciplinary court on Tuesday, hours before it hosts Maccabi Umm al-Fahm in the
last 32 of the State Cup.
Umm al-Fahm of the National League plans to
bring 2,500 fans to the potentially volatile showdown at Teddy and coach Samir
Issa promised his players would leave the pitch should Betar fans deride
Police at the match on Saturday arrested three supporters on
suspicion of incitement, with two of them being banned on Sunday from entering
stadiums until the end of the 2013/14 season.
“I was shocked by the
racism displayed in the Betar Jerusalem stands yesterday against having Muslim
or Arab players on the team,” Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon said on
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, who was once the chairman of
Betar, blasted those who want to keep the team “purely Jewish.” Speaking at an
International Holocaust Memorial Day ceremony, Rivlin called for the Israel
Football Association not to stand silent in light of recent
“Think what would happen if teams in England or Germany would
decide that Jews cannot play for them.
Israelis would censure them,” he
stated. “These calls have continued for a decade, and they teach us that it is
not a small, fringe group. We must fight them, uproot them from among us and do
justice with anyone who incites against partnership between all who live in this
land.”Lahav Harkov and Reuters contributed to this report.