Israeli soccer fans in Jerusalem say that it wasn't racism that made them walk out when one of their own players scored a goal over the weekend, but that it was "just a matter of being Arab" and they want to keep the team "pure."
A group of hardcore fans -- known as "La Familia" -- have recently expressed outraged after the Beitar Jerusalem team signed two Chechen Muslim players, Zaur Sadayev and Dzhabrail Kadiyev. Members of "La Familia" were seen last month flying a banner that said, "Beitar is pure, forever." And more recently, two members were arrested for starting fires outside the management offices of Beitar Jerusalem.
On Sunday, the tension boiled over when Sadayev scored his first-ever goal for the club.
The Independent reported that many at Teddy Stadium cheered, but "hundreds" of members of "La Familia" stood up and walked out.
"The reaction to the Muslim players being here is not racist," a 19-year-old fan named Akeeva explained. “But the club’s existence is under threat. Beitar is a symbol for the whole country.”
"It’s just a matter of being Arab," a fan named Jacob concurred, referring to the fact that Sadayev is Muslim. "It’s not racism, they just shouldn’t be here."
"Beitar Jerusalem has always been a clean club, but now it’s being destroyed – many of the other players are thinking of leaving because of the Muslim players being here," he added.
Deadspin's Tom Ley snarked that the "La Familia" members were using "solid logic" in defending their actions.
"Now we have to add Israel to the ever-growing list of countries that are home to bigoted shitbag soccer fans," Ley wrote.