Israel Football Association Halves Beitar Jerusalem's Punishment for Racist Misconduct

Jerusalem soccer club originally docked two points after their fans chanted racial abuse at a rival team's Arab player.

Nir Keidar

An Israel Football Association appeals court on Monday halved a two-point punishment for misconduct against Beitar Jerusalem after their fans chanted racial abuse at a rival team's Arab player.

The court said it had deliberated long and hard before deciding to reduce the penalty and was giving the club one final chance to prove that their fans had learned their lesson following many previous punishments. The incident cited in the referee's report involved a section of Beitar's supporters shouting racial abuse at Hapoel Kiryat Shmona's Ahmed Abed, who scored a late winner for the visitors in a league match this month.

"After considering the matter, we have decided - and not without hesitation - to give the club and its fans one final opportunity to show that they have indeed learned the required lessons and that from now on they will work to eradicate any racist chanting," the ruling said. 

Beitar are the only Israeli club never to have employed an Arab player and their supporters have regularly chanted racial abuse for which they have repeatedly faced disciplinary action. The single-point reinstatement was enough for Beitar to displace Maccabi Haifa in fourth place in the Premier League standings after they beat Maccabi Petah Tikva 2-1 on Monday night.

Beitar have 48 points from 34 matches, one more than Haifa, with each club still with two games to play. The top four finishers qualify for European competition.