Jerusalem Soccer Club That Never Signed an Arab Player Now in Talks With Emirati Investors

Extremist La Familia fan organization is opposed to hiring Arab players, but Beitar Jerusalem hails 'new winds of peace that are blowing in the Middle East' with Israel-UAE normalization

Reuters
Haaretz Sports Staff
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Beitar Jerusalem fans during a match with Hapoel Tel Aviv at Teddy stadium in Jerusalem, June 21, 2018.
Beitar Jerusalem fans during a match with Hapoel Tel Aviv at Teddy stadium in Jerusalem, June 21, 2018. Credit: Kobe Gideon / GPO
Reuters
Haaretz Sports Staff

Israel’s Beitar Jerusalem soccer club is negotiating a possible investment by a group in the United Arab Emirates as the countries move to formalize ties, the Premier League club said on Tuesday.

Talks between the club and Emirati investors come as a surprise, since Beitar Jerusalem never hired an Arab played, due to pressure from its extremist La Familia fan organization.

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The club gave no details on the prospective deal or investors, other than to identify them as "entrepreneurs from Abu Dhabi". Club owner Moshe Hogeg will fly to the UAE capital soon to pursue the negotiations, the Beitar statement said.

"This is an opportunity to turn Beitar Jerusalem into a dominant club ... that will represent, in addition to soccer, a concrete symbol of the new winds of peace that are blowing in the Middle East," Beitar said in a statement.

One of the Emirati businessmen involved in the potential deal said he has no concerns investing in soccer club that has never signed an Arab player.

"Fanaticism is rooted in ignorance and fear to accept the other. With tolerance we would be able to create friendship with others. Sport is an international language…" the businessman said.

He added that the Emirati investors are not worried about the reaction of some of Beitar's fans, who will soon come to realize that "people from the UAE seek peace and co-existence."

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