Israeli Soccer Team Says Abu Dhabi Ruling Family Member Looks to Buy Stake

Owner of Beitar Jerusalem, who has a prominent far-right fan club, says he received letter of intent from Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Nahyan to buy stake of about 50%

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Players during a game between Beitar Jerusalem and Maccabi Tel Aviv held without an audience in Tel Aviv, October 31, 2020.
Players during a game between Beitar Jerusalem and Maccabi Tel Aviv held without an audience in Tel Aviv, October 31, 2020.Credit: Nir Keidar

A member of Abu Dhabi's ruling family is looking to buy a roughly 50% stake of Israeli Premier League soccer team Beitar Jerusalem, the team's owner said on Friday.

Beitar said in September it was negotiating a possible investment by a group in the United Arab Emirates in a statement that followed the announcement that Israel and the UAE had agreed to normalize ties.

Talks between Beitar owner Moshe Hogeg and an Emirati group were first reported in Israeli media days before the confirmation, however, prompting strong opposition from the far-right fan club known as La Familia. Hogeg noted in response that his father was born in Tunisia and his mother’s family came from Morocco, and said in a statement denouncing racism: “I am a Jewish Arab.”

Hogeg said in a phone call with Reuters he had received a non-binding letter of intent from Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Nahyan to buy a stake of about 50% in the team. 

According to Hogeg, he will retain control and keep 51% of ownership.

Al Nahyan could not immediately be reached for comment.

Hogeg, who has just returned from a visit to the UAE, said he hopes an agreement could be reached by the end of the year.

The deal is being brokered by Jewish Emirati businessman Naum Koen, who heads the holding company NY Koen Group.

Businesspeople and royals in Abu Dhabi have been involved in world soccer for years, purchasing clubs from various countries, most notably Manchester United.

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