Prosecutors on Thursday filed indictments against four Beitar Jerusalem fans for racism, including the harassing of the soccer team's two new Muslim players from Chechnya.
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All four fans are between 22 and 24 years old. Three of them were indicted for making racist statements during Beitar's game against Bnei Yehuda last month. A fourth fan, 23, was charged with harassing the two Muslim players during their first practice with the team last week.
Racism has worsened at Teddy Stadium after Beitar late last month signed the two Muslim players, Gabriel Kadiev and Zaur Sadaev.
According to the charge sheet, the fourth fan arrived at the Beitar facility dressed in a T-shirt with the slogan "Mohammed is 100 percent dead." He also waved a sign with a picture of Nadallah, a former Muslim player for Beitar. It quoted him from an interview: "I don't recommend a Muslim to join Beitar; the extremists won't change."
Meanwhile, around 20 people from the world Beitar youth movement showed up at Beitar's practice on Thursday handing out flowers to Kadiev and Sadaev. Last week world Beitar's leaders sent a letter to the team saying the fans' behavior was badly damaging its reputation.
"We want to see another Beitar," said Beitar Chairman Itzik Kornfein. "Over the last two weeks we have received support for what we are doing – also from people with no connection to the team."
Beitar has also won support around the league in its efforts against racism. Maccabi Haifa President Yaakov Shahar, Hapoel Be'er Sheva owner Alona Barkat, Ashdod F.C. owner Jacky Ben Zaken and Bnei Yehuda CEO Moshe Damio have all announced their intention to attend Sunday's game at Teddy Stadium. Jack Angelides, the representative of Maccabi Tel Aviv owner Mitch Goldhar, will also be on hand.
The pressure is palpable at the club ahead of Sunday's game against Bnei Sakhnin, a team based in an Arab town in the Galilee. During Thursday's practice, head coach Eli Cohen clashed with players Avi Reikan and Eran Levy.
Also Thursday, Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat announced that the betting authority would transfer NIS 200,000 to the club to help it work against violence and racism.
Livnat also appealed to Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch to help out with the team's security expenses for the Bnei Sakhnin match.