Israel Football Association mulls disciplinary action against soccer club for latest display by extreme right-wingers

Beitar Jerusalem fans at Teddy Stadium, on Tuesday, Jan. 29 (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Beitar Jerusalem fans at Teddy Stadium, on Tuesday, Jan. 29 (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)


Israel Football Association officials are considering taking disciplinary action against Beitar Jerusalem after a group of its fans were seen chanting slogans praising former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assassin, Yigal Amir, during a game Tuesday night.

In amateur footage of Beitar’s game against Macabbi Tel Aviv, dozens of the club’s fans clad in the team’s traditional yellow jersey can be seen chanting Amir’s name, incorporated into the club’s fight song.

IFA prosecutor Nir Reshef and IFA legal adviser Efraim Barak will meet on Wednesday to determine if the fans’ behavior warrants official disciplinary action against the club, according to a Ynet report.

The incident comes as Israel commemorates the 20 year anniversary of Rabin’s assassination by Amir, a right-wing extremist.

Beitar Jerusalem issued a statement strongly condemning the behavior of its fans, and claimed the incident was an isolated one.

“There is no room for these kinds of chants in the stands of Beitar Jerusalem games,” the club said. “There are always those who try to ruin our victory celebrations, and anyone singing in praise of Yigal Amir do represent our fans, and we do not consider them as fans either.”

Beitar added that some of the fans in the footage were known to the police, and that it expected police to take appropriate action against them.

Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev also condemned the Beitar supporters and called on law enforcement authorities to “adopt a zero tolerance policy for violence, or verbal violence, which has no place on our fields. This must be treated with the utmost severity.”

Beitar Jerusalem is known for its right-wing fan base, and its recent games against Israeli Arab teams have required up to 600 police officers, private security guards and undercover detectives, who have attempted to root out displays of hostility and calls of racist incitement among fans.

Most of the hooliganism is attributed to a group of extremist fans known as La Familia.

In a similar incident in 2007, Beitar Jerusalem fans booed during a pre-game moment of silence marking the 12th anniversary of Rabin’s assassination, and also sang songs in praise of Amir during the game.

The team was later sanctioned for the display.

In early 2013, fans protested the team’s signing of two Chechen players by setting the team’s offices on fire and holding up anti-Muslim signs during games.

In March 2012, hundreds of Beitar fans beat up a group of Arab employees at a shopping mall in Jerusalem.

After a group of Beitar fans threw smoke bombs, flares and firecrackers onto the field at a Belgium stadium during a match between the club and Belgium’s Sporting Chaleroi in July, the team’s owner decided to sell the team.

As reported by The Times of Israel