Israeli Beitar's fans accused of chauvinism
Petr Lukimson, Israel. Exclusively to Vestnik Kavkaza
On January 29 everyone in Israel is focusing not on the formation of a ruling coalition but on the game between Jerusalem's Beytar football team and Umm el-Fahm's Makkabi FC. Moreover, people are not interested in the result of the game, they are worried about whether or not Beytar's fans will start an anti-Muslim provocation.
The situation in the city district where the Teddi stadium is situated is now really tense. The reason is that the owner of Beytar, Jewish-Russian businessman Arkady Gaydamar, has decided to invite two football players from Chechnya's Terek FC to the team.
Tens of thousands of Beytar fans, the majority of whom have come from North Africa, protested against the decision. They say that Beytar has always been purely Jewish and no Muslims have ever played for it. Some fans even announced that they will 'turn the city upside down' if the two Chechen players actually join the team.
One should take into consideration that Beytar's fans are notorious for starting uprisings. This means that these threats should be taken seriously. The Israeli Football Federation has even considered the possibility of holding the game without an audience and stopped selling tickets. However, it was eventually decided that spectators will be allowed. Now the whole country is waiting for the game.
All major politicians, sportsmen and public figures, as well as President Shimon Peres, have condemned Beytar's fans for chauvinism. The owner of the team, Arkady Gaydamak, says he was shocked by the reaction of fans.
"I'm sure that if two Terek players join the team, it will only become better. I have always thought that professional skills and not ethnic origin or religion are the most important thing in football. I cannot stand the anti-Arab sentiment of Beytar's fans. I cannot understand their hatred for Terek's players. The people of the Caucasus have always lived in peace with Jews," Gaydamak says.