Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Soccer racism raises concern in Israel

JERUSALEM — With 10 minutes left to play, Dzhabrail Kadiev, a Muslim soccer player from Chechnya, took the field for the first time for Beitar Jerusalem, a local team notorious for fan violence and racism. A chorus of catcalls went up from the stands, quickly drowned out by a welcoming ovation.

Yet every kick of the ball by the newly signed player was met with jeers and whistles, punctuating Sunday night’s tense game that ended in a 2-2 tie with a squad from the Israeli Arab town of Sakhnin.

The signing of two Chechen players by Beitar’s owner, Russian-Israeli oligarch Arcadi Gaydamak, has triggered an outburst of violent protest from the club’s hard-core followers, long opposed to recruitment of Muslim or Arab players to the team.
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