Malaysian FA offers Benayoun apology over racist slurs

While it didn't concede that Israeli player was object of racist abuse, Malaysia says behavior not "reflection of feelings of majority of fans."

benayoun 248.88 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
benayoun 248.88
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
The Football Association of Malaysia responded on Friday to a complaint made by Chelsea FC, a London soccer team, that one of its players, Israeli Yossi Benayoun, was subjected to anti-Semitic abuse during a recent friendly match played between Chelsea and the Malaysian national team in Kuala Lumpur on July 21.
The Malaysia FA statement did not concede that Benayoun had been the object of racist behavior by the crowd but said that “if such an incident occurred, we would like to apologize to the player concern [sic], and also to Chelsea FC,” adding that had this had happened, it would not reflect the feelings of the majority of fans “in this football loving country.”
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According to reports, Benayoun was taunted and booed by sections of the 85,000-strong crowd every time he touched the ball during the match. Malaysia’s population is 60 percent Muslim and the country has no diplomatic ties with Israel. Chelsea issued a complaint calling the incident “offensive” and “totally unacceptable.”
In response to the Malaysia FA’s statement, Chelsea FC said, “The club and Yossi accept the apology, and the matter is now closed,” while urging the Malaysia FA to “take appropriate steps to stamp out this type of behavior in future.”