FIFA could demand Betar Jerusalem be shut down

IFA chairman says if anti-Muslim bigotry continues, UEFA will demand closure; state cup match to be held at empty stadium.

Betar fans (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Betar fans
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
In an effort to avoid a recurrence of Saturday’s racist behavior by fans, Betar Jerusalem will ask the Israel Football Association’s disciplinary court to host Tuesday’s State Cup match against Maccabi Umm al-Fahm in front of an empty Teddy Stadium.
Betar will stand trial at the IFA on Tuesday morning after supporters reacted angrily to owner Arkadi Gaydamak’s announcement that the club is set to sign Muslims Dzhabrail Kadiyev and Zaur Sadayev from Chechen club Terek Grozny, raising banners reading: “Betar [will be] pure forever” and singing anti- Arab chants during the 1-0 Premier League defeat to Bnei Yehuda on Saturday.
Jerusalem chairman Itzik Kornfein met with IFA chairman Avi Luzon on Monday and announced that Betar will request to be punished to play in front of empty stands on Tuesday in a potentially volatile showdown with Umm al-Fahm.
Luzon revealed during the meeting with Kornfein that FIFA and UEFA are following the happenings at Betar and could demand the club be shut down should the anti- Muslim bigotry in the stands continue.
“The implications of more racist chants could be disastrous to the future of our club and I don’t usually speak in such a manner,” Kornfein said.
“Betar Jerusalem is ashamed of the racist behavior displayed in the match against Bnei Yehuda. This behavior does not represent the club and its many fans.
The club will continue to eradicate this phenomenon with all the means at its disposal.”
Kornfein said that the club had stopped on Monday morning the sale of tickets for the last 32 cup encounter against Umm al-Fahm and that it will refund any fans who had already purchased tickets.
Kornfein also met with police representatives on Monday and the sides agreed to heighten measures against delinquent fans.
Besides Betar’s encounter against Umm al-Fahm, eight more last 32 ties will take place on Tuesday.
In the only all-top flight showdown of the day, leagueleader Maccabi Tel Aviv visits Maccabi Netanya.
Tel Aviv increased its lead at the top of the league standings to five points over the weekend, thrashing Hapoel Acre 4-0, with Maccabi Haifa climbing up to second place at Hapoel Tel Aviv’s expense with a 3-0 victory over the Reds on Sunday.
Netanya needed a 92ndminute equalizer to snatch a 1-1 draw against Hapoel Ramat Gan on Saturday and is just four points off the relegation zone.
Also Tuesday: Ironi Ramat Hasharon vs Maccabi Yavne; Hapoel Acre vs Hapoel Afula; Asi Gilboa vs Hapoel Petah Tikva; Ness Ziona vs Hapoel Ra’anana; Hapoel Rishon Lezion vs Ahi Nazareth; Hapoel Ashkelon vs Betar Nahariya; Betar Tel Aviv/Ramle vs Bnei Lod. The remaining seven last 32 ties will take place on Wednesday.