Hundreds of Beitar Jerusalem Fans Walk Out After Chechen Player Scores

At match against Maccabi Netanya, racist fans object to Muslims playing on their team.

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Sunday evening's soccer encounter between Beitar Jerusalem and Maccabi Netanya ended in a 1-1 draw, but the event was again overshadowed by a blunt show of racism by hundreds of Beitar fans.

Considering Beitar's dire recent form in the Premier League – four losses and a draw in the last five games – one could believe that that the home fans would be overjoyed when their team scored in the 48th minute. After a weak first half from the hosts, Avi Rikan sent a delicious through ball which cut through the Netanya defense, finding Chechen forward Zaur Sadayev, who controlled the ball with his chest and sweetly struck home from inside the box. While most Beitar fans and players celebrated the goal, some 300 fans walked out in disgust.

After Beitar's goal, Netanya pressed for the equalizer and completely controlled proceedings, with the home team defending deep and trying to hit on the counter attack. Beitar's goalkeeper Ariel Harush did well to block Ali El-Khatib's fierce strike from outside the box, before Rikan almost doubled the home team's advantage with a spectacular overhead kick.

Most remaining Beitar fans cheered Sadayev when he was substituted by the troubled Eran Levy in the 74th minute, but three minutes later Netanya were rewarded for their efforts: Firas Mugrabi, who earlier missed a glorious opportunity, found Omri Ben Harush who scored from close range. The last few minutes saw both teams squander excellent chances to score, with Achmad Saba'a rattling the Beitar post and Rikan, again, missing after being set up by Levy.

While the draw did little to help Netanya escape the relegation area – only three points separate Tal Banin's team from Hapoel Haifa – Beitar now has to hope that Ramat Hasharon fails to beat Be'er Sheva in the last game of the regular season, and get a result against Maccabi Tel Aviv at Bloomfield in order to secure a place in the upper-tier playoff.

Beitar Jerusalem fans leaving the match, March 3, 2013. Credit: Sharon Bukov

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