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The professional footballers association of Israel (IFPA) strongly request players of both Beitar Jerusalem and Maccabi Umm Al Fahm to avoid any racist provocations during Tuesday evening’s cup tie.

 

Tuesday’s Israeli cup match between premier league club Beitar Jerusalem and second league Maccabi Umm al Fahm has caught the eye of many people in Israel and abroad.

 

Beitar Jerusalem are a bastion of Israel's political right-wing and the only leading team in the country never to have signed an Arab player because of fan pressure. Maccabi Umm al Fahm is an Arab club.

 

Recently, Beitar’s management announced to bring in two Moslem players from the Russian club Terek Grozny. These players (Zaur Sadayev and Dzhabrail Kadiyev) are to arrive in Jerusalem within the next few days. Many Beitar fans protest their arrival because of the fact that the two players are Moslem.

 

Last Saturday during a Premier League match some of these fans held up banners to protest the signing of Sadayev and Kadiyev.

 

On Monday, Beitar Jerusalem requested the Israeli Football Association to play the cup tie behind closed doors, without a crowd in the stadium. They declared: ‘The behavior of these fans does not represent the club and its hundreds of thousands of fans.’ Much to the dislike of the management of Umm al Fahm, who said they would refuse to play if the Israeli FA would accept Beitar’s request.

 

An IFPA representative attended the meeting between the clubs and the FA. In the end, Beitar backed down from its request. The match will be played in front of a crowd.

 

Several representatives of the IFPA have visited the training camp of Umm al Fahm and Beitar in the last few days. They strongly advised players from both clubs to avoid any racist provocations.

 

IFPA officials have also been in contact with both club representatives and fans and have demanded that there be no racist activity. The IFPA, led by General Manager Arie Alter who represents the Israel Football League on the Israeli government's Council Against Violence in Sport, has been contending with the issue of racism for years now.

 

Arie Alter about the match between Beitar and Umm al Fahm: ‘The IFPA is fighting racism and violence, investing great efforts in education. However, in this particular instance the police and authorities must take control of the hard-core of violent troublemakers, who would destroy the pleasure from all football fans, including most of the Beitar Jerusalem fans, who are not racist, who oppose violence and support fair play.’