Israel's Jewish-only club's offices torched by racist fans over signing of Muslim players

Last Updated: Sat, Feb 09, 2013 10:40 hrs

Israeli football club Beitar Jerusalem suffered the ire of its inglorious racist fans for hiring two new Muslim players Zaur Sadayev and Gabriel Kadiev, as the hooligan fans, who are notorious for their anti-Arab slogans, torched the club's offices on Friday.

According to the police, the attack damaged the main club house of Beitar Jerusalem, a day after four fans were charged in court in connection with racist incitement against the team's recruitment of Muslim players, the New York Daily News reports.

The fire, which destroyed historic trophies and mementos, comes after the team broke with its unofficial tradition and signed two Muslim players from Chechnya, infuriating its most xenophobic fan-base that has a history of chanting anti-Islam slurs at games, it reported.Beitar has long tried to contain a tightly knit fan group called "La Familia" whose behavior has had the team docked points and forced it to play before empty stadiums, the paper said.

At the first game after the move, fans unfurled large banners with racist undertones, such as one that read "Beitar pure forever." When the team refused to back down, the fans turned abusive and began cursing and spitting at players and management, the paper added.

Players who stood up for their teammates were booed and threatened.

Following Friday's attack, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, himself a Beitar fan, issued a strongly worded condemnation disapproving those opposing integration at Beitar.

No arrests have been made yet, but police suspected the attack was linked to the signing of the new players and pledged police would use "every legal means in order to prevent the continual racism, which is basically destroying the club." (ANI)

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