After Belgium football fans began making anti-Semitic comments, visiting supporters of Bietar Jerusalem caused ‘outrage & shame’ with their violent reaction.
By David Ben Shimol
Fans of the controversial Beitar Jerusalem team shocked the Israeli sports community after a small confrontation with fans of a rival team sparked a violent display at a game in Belgium Thursday night.
The fans threw smoke grenades and hung a racist flag at the outset of the game, leading play to be suspended. Heavy fines are expected to be imposed on the team, and the team’s owner has pledged to withdraw all support.
The team’s owner has stated that he plans to leave the team and Israeli soccer as a whole as a result of the events. “I am ashamed and shocked by the behavior of part of the crowd tonight. The whole world watched the horror, this embarrassing horror show, conducted by the same radical group who are not true Bietar Fans in my eyes,” Tabib said. “Tonight officially marked the end of my role in Israeli soccer, and specifically with Bietar Jerusalem,” he said.
The football club is predicted to receive a serious penalty from the European football governing association – UEFA. The punishment comes in response to the actions of the club’s fans, which included pelting the pitch with smoke grenades, after Belgian club fans sang anti-Semitic chants. The smoke grenades required play to be suspended, during which the fans managed to hit the Charleroi goalie in the head with an object thrown from the bleachers, forcing him to seek medical attention. Beitar finished the game with nine players, after two players fouled out.
The league’s manager said in response to the events, “It’s a shame that after years in which Israeli fans provided exemplary support to their teams in Europe, a portion of Beitar fans managed to completely embarrass Israeli soccer as a whole, and their team specifically.”
“Throwing smoke grenades on the pitch, whilst hanging a ‘Kahane is alive’ flag, represents the epitome of reckless and disrespectful behavior to anyone working in football.” Meir Kahane was a far-right American-Israeli rabbi who’s views on Palestinians earned him the reputation of a racist before he was assassinated in New York by an Arab gunman.
“Although this game does not fall under the league’s purview, we see it right to express our outrage at the behavior of these Beitar fans,” the league’s management added.
Minister of Sport Miri Regev also reacted to the incident, saying, “It’s a shame that the Beitar fans choose to embarrass the whole of Israel soccer, and their team specifically. The violent behavior which included throwing smoke bombs onto the pitch represents a type of wild behavior, which lacks even the slightest respect for anyone working in the sport.”
“I feel the need to condemn all violence of any type by soccer fans. A small group of Beitar fans hurt the club’s reputation. Their behavior is unacceptable. I find it right to summon the relevant authorities in order to decide on the matter of the harsh punishment which will follow,” she added.
Beitar went on to lose the match 5-1.
View original Ynet publication at: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4680989,00.html